A Dying and Death Research Project
Friday 11th March – Sunday 13th March 2016
Loss is one of the great unifying forces in life. It affects all of us in one way or another, and frequently brings people together in outpourings of shared grief. Because our lives are constant streams of experience, the nature of loss and consequently the ‘meaning’ of such loss continually varies and changes. We may experience grief in our own way as individuals but, as Mark Twain quips, “History may not repeat itself; but, it does rhyme.” Despite variance in the way individuals register grief, there tends to be three main features that inform our response to loss:
An urge to look back, lament, and perhaps search for (and/or reflect on) what is lost;
An urge to look forward, by considering the world emerging from the loss, and maybe discover what from the past can be carried forward into the future; and
The social and cultural pressures that influence how the first two urges are inhibited and expressed.
These influences interact in various ways, depending on the nature of the loss, as the bereaved tries to avoid pain in some cases, and in others, confront it.
Due to the painful nature of the topic, it can be difficult to have substantive conversations about the nature of loss, the complex range of emotions and responses it triggers, the factors that either enhance or mitigate its effects, and strategies for developing professional best practice protocols designed to cater for the needs of those experiencing loss. The Loss research and publishing stream provides a platform for participants across the disciplinary spectrum to come together to grapple with these and other related issues.
While previous research efforts on grief typically sanctioned a particular “model” for grieving (e.g., the grief work model, continuing bonds, a narrative approach, the dual-process model, and the tasks of mourning, to name a few), new research seeks a more integrated, inter-disciplinary picture of grief. By carefully and systematically identifying commonalities and differences between the models, some endeavour to achieve a cross-culturally descriptive, trans-disciplinary nomenclature about the grieving experience. In sharp contrast to such efforts to locate consensus, this conference begins with an orientation that grief, or the reaction to a loss, can encompass thoughts and feelings, as well as physical, behavioural, and spiritual responses. These reactions may appear immediately after the bereaved learns of the death, or they may be delayed; indeed, they may even be absent. No one will necessarily experience all of these reactions, nor must all be present. Grief is a highly variable, individualistic, multi-dimensional, evolving process that occurs over time, with no pre-determined timetable. Yet, integrated models of grief, that is, models that strive to discover linkages that connect an individual’s grief response to a family system, as well as the wider culture, re-examine previously held notions that an individual’s grief remains so private, so interior, and so unique that it resists comparative meaning-making within a larger system. Instead, integrated grief models assume that families, and family grief processes, are inextricably linked to the individual’s grief and recovery. The family system, always in the context of a particular cultural matrix, provides patterns of interaction which are often crucial determinants of whether someone’s grief can be survived, or whether it will be “world-destroying.”
The organisers welcome submissions from anyone with interest and expertise in the topic, particularly medical professionals, legal experts, chaplains/spiritual advisors/faith leaders, administrators of care facilities, business people working in relevant fields, funerary workers, social workers, civil servants, representatives of charities, NGOs and not-for-profits working in relevant areas, and academics as well as artists whose work and research involves themes of loss, mortality, and/or death. Submissions for presentations, workshops, pre-constituted panels, performances, screenings, art installations and interactive round tables are welcomed on any aspect of grief and loss, including the following themes:
1. What is Loss?
Defining “loss.” What is “loss”? How do we approach “loss”?
Is loss unique or exclusive to human beings?
Collective loss (e.g. responses to deaths of leaders, celebrities, disasters, etc.)
Categories of loss. Loss as – a problem; a condition; an expression; an experience; a position of powerlessness; a consequence of meaninglessness; a result of affliction.
2. The Roots of Loss
The origins of loss
Loss as universal; as international; as national; as local; as particular
Loss and history
The contexts and conditions of loss
3. The Meaning of Loss
Loss and meaning
Loss and language
What is at stake when dealing with loss?
The “limits” of loss
The dangers of loss
4. Explaining Loss
Loss and explanation
Theories of loss: the work of the disciplines
Theories of loss: the work of the professions
Theories of loss: the work of the vocations
Silence and loss
5. Loss and Practice
Loss, apathy and indifference
Practices causing, prolonging, truncating, overcoming, relieving or resolving loss
Loss, hope and despair
6. Loss and Spirituality/Religion
Loss in/from the perspective of religious traditions
Loss and sacred texts
Portraits of loss and sufferers
Loss and “redemption”
Loss and atheism
Spirituality/religion as methods of coping with loss
7. Loss and Creative Expression
Representing loss in literature, tv, film, theatre, radio, music, art, etc.
Writing, painting and performance as ways of dealing with loss
Loss in cybercultures
Remembering and grief in social media
8. Confronting Loss
Meaning, loss and action
Should loss be overcome?
Practice(s), resolution(s), settlement
9. Spaces of Loss
Where people die
Grief and loss on social media
Places of burial and cremation
Rituals for scattering ashes
Monuments, memorials and rituals of remembrance
10. The Business of Loss
Industries that cater to victims of loss (Insurance sector, funeral/cremation facilities, self-help schemes, psychics, etc.)
Dealing with loss in the business world
Administration of hospitals, hospice, clinics and other care delivery institutions
Further details and information can be found at the project web site:
Call for Cross-Over Presentations
The Loss project will be meeting at the same time as a project on Trauma and another project on The Supernatural. We welcome submissions which cross the divide between both project areas. If you would like to be considered for a cross project session, please mark your submission “Crossover Submission”.
What to Send
300 word abstracts, proposals and other forms of contribution should be submitted by Friday 2nd October 2015.
All submissions be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.
You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Friday 16th October 2015.
If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by Friday 5th February 2016.
Abstracts may be in Word, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Loss Abstract Submission
Where to Send
Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs:
This event is an inclusive interdisciplinary research and publishing project. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.
All papers accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.
Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation. Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.