Mourning as Biography Generator


  • Heidemarie Winkel Universität Erfurt



mourning, bereavement, biography generator, self-description, communication media and codes, general systems approach, emotions


For bereaved persons, an alter ego's death proves to be a serious experience of contingency. It can unsettle the individual's conception of the self, whereby mourning emerges as grief of a unique intensity and depth. The development of the emotional experience becomes a starting point and measure for the individual's re-conceptualization of the self in terms of psychological and therapeutic images. The notion of mourning as personal grief corresponds to a general, typically modern attribution of emotionality within the realm of inner experience and inwardness, i.e., I am what my feelings are expressing. From a general systems approach, talking about mourning as private and individual grief requires social communication standards. Within a research based on biographical interviews mourning proved to be a symbolic communication code for the expression of a unique and individual experience of sorrow, despair and bewilderment. Furthermore the results revealed that the distinctiveness of different biographical discontinuations and passages could be communicated under the aspects of grief and mourning, regardless of the particular social system. But mourning not only guarantees selective or sporadic narrations about the self. The central assumption is that mourning functions as a biography generator by offering a systematic and all-embracing re-construction of a life story under the aspects of sorrow and grief. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0801501


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Author Biography

Heidemarie Winkel, Universität Erfurt

Dr. Heidemarie Winkel; Disziplin: Soziologie; Forschungsschwerpunkte: Geschlechtersoziologie, Religionssoziologie, Thanatosoziologie, Biografieforschung



How to Cite

Winkel, H. (2008). Mourning as Biography Generator. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(1).