Revisiting the Continuing Bonds Theory: The Cultural Uniqueness of the Bei Dao Phenomenon in Taiwanese Widows/Widowers

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Abstract

In the present study, we used the phenomenological approach to rediscover the ontological meaning of relationships with the deceased in Taiwanese widows/widowers. We first revised the original Western definitions of grief, bereavement, and mourning to fit Taiwanese culture. We used the word bei dao to indicate the mixed nature of grief and mourning in the Taiwanese bereavement process. Then we reanalyzed data from a previous study, which was conducted in 2006. In the previous qualitative research, each subject was interviewed 3 to 4 times in the mourning state over an 18-month interval that began at the point of the spouse’s death. Results showed that two main themes emerged in the present analysis: (a) a blurred boundary of life and death and (b) a transformation of ethical bonds. The present study reveals the culturally unique aspects of the Taiwanese bei dao process. Limitations of the present study and future directions are discussed and reflected.

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