Centre for Death & Society

Continuing Bonds


Principal Investigator: Christine Valentine

Dates: Ongoing

Funding: Funding: 2003- 2007, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC); 2007-2008, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; 2009 ongoing, unfunded.


Project Rationale and Aims

Departmental Themes

This ongoing project aims to explore bereavement as socially and culturally shaped, with particularly focus on the diverse ways in which the living may continue their relationships with the dead.  Christine Valentine and other CDAS staff have made significant contributions to researching and developing understandings of bereavement as an ongoing process of continuing bonds with the dead.

Following a study of the narratives of a diverse sample of 25 bereaved individuals in the UK, which identified the extent to which deceased loved ones may retain a social presence in the lives of those left behind, Christine went on to conduct a similar study in Japan where ‘continuing bonds’ are well established. She has since made a comparative study of the UK and Japanese data to draw attention to the social and cultural shaping of grief and how different cultures may overlap and converge in complex and subtle ways.  Her publications have contributed to understanding the creative ways in which individuals negotiate their culture’s resources and restraints to make sense of and convey ‘unusual’ experiences, such as ‘sensing the presence of the dead’; illuminating the role of the body and emotions in recovering identities and post-mortem relationships; and comparing the implications of differing understandings of identity, i.e. as independent in the UK and relational in Japan, on the experience of bereavement.


  • Valentine, C. (2018) Identity and Continuing Bonds in Cross-Cultural Perspective: the UK and Japan, in D. Klass, and E. Steffen (eds), Continuing  bonds - second edition: The presence of the dead in personal, social and cultural lives, Ch. 14
  • Walter, T. (2018) How Continuing Bonds Have Been Framed Across Millennia, in D. Klass & E. Steffen, eds, Continuing Bonds in Bereavement: New Directions for Research and Practice, New York: Routledge
  • Jonsson, A., Walter, T. (2017) ‘Continuing Bonds and Place’, Death Studies
  • Valentine, C., 2013. Identity and postmortem relationships in the narratives of British and Japanese mourners:Identity and Postmortem Relationships. Sociological Review, 61 (2), pp. 383-401
  • Valentine, C. (2010) Identity and the good death in the narratives of bereaved Japanese people. Grief Matters, Autumn Edition.
  • Valentine. C. 2010 The role of the ancestral tradition in bereavement in contemporary Japanese society. Mortality, 15.4: 275-294
  • Valentine, C. A., 2009. Continuing bonds after bereavement: A cross-cultural perspective. Bereavement Care, 28 (2), pp. 6-11
  • Valentine, C. 2009 Negotiating a loved one’s dying in contemporary Japanese society. Mortality, 14.1: 34-53
  • Valentine, C. (2009) Bereavement Narratives: continuing bonds in the twenty-first century. Routledge
  • Howarth G. (2007) The rebirth of death: continuing relationships with the dead. In: Mitchell M (ed) Remember me. London: Routledge, 19-34
  • Klass, D., Walter, T. (2001) ‘Processes of Grieving: how bonds are continued’, pp.431-48 in M. Stroebe, R. Hansson, W. Stroebe & H. Schut (eds) Handbook of Bereavement Research: Consequences, Coping and Care, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association
  • Walter, T. (1996) ‘A New Model of Grief: Bereavement and Biography’ Mortality, 1(1): 7-25

See also:

Angels, Death Online and Bereaved Through Susbstance Misuse research pages

Find out more about this project

Name: Dr Christine Valentine
Title: Part Time Teaching Fellow
Department: Dept of Social and Policy Sciences
Location: 3 East 3.11
E-mail: c.a.valentine@bath.ac.uk
Phone: work+44 (0) 1225 383885