This investigation into the significance of mourning in the therapeutic process became a matter of pressing importance for me through my practical work as a psychotherapist. In the course of the last ten years, it again and again struck me in the treatment of many depressive illnesses that loss experiences had been too little mourned. It seemed clear that they could be an additional factor contributing to depressive illness.
The taboo surrounding death has been lifted in recent years. It is now ‘permissible’ to speak of dying. It seems to me that the time has come to also lift the taboo surrounding mourning: we may and we should mourn. Indeed, Freud wrote as early as 1915 about the great value of the “work of mourning”—the term originates from him. Nevertheless, the great influence which grief has on our psychic health is not in proportion to the rather scant attention paid to it in the literature of psychology.