Materializing Loss and Facing the Absence-Presence of the Dead

  • Annika JonssonEmail author


This chapter is based on an interview study carried out with bereaved individuals in Sweden and the United Kingdom, and it explores how the loss of a significant other unfolds through a process of materialization. This process entails assigning meaning to matters associated with the deceased. Places and objects that are imbued with meaning because of this association bring the interviewees closer to their deceased, as memories and emotions related to the person are brought back or enhanced. At the same time, the absence of the person is also accentuated. It is concluded that the interviewees are or were haunted by the memories of their deceased. Haunting occurs when the familiar and the unfamiliar collide and create an absence-presence that is impossible to make sense of. There are differences between the five cases presented, but they all demonstrate how absence and presence can be materialized simultaneously in ways that are deeply distressing.


Loss Materialization Continuing bonds Haunting Place Object 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Psychological StudiesKarlstad UniversityKarlstadSweden

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