Grief and Recovery

In Anna Gotlib (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Sadness. London: Rowman & Littlefield International (2017)
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Imagine that someone recovers relatively quickly, say, within two or three months, from grief over the death of her spouse, whom she loved and who loved her; and suppose that, after some brief interval, she remarries. Does the fact that she feels better and moves on relatively quickly somehow diminish the quality of her earlier relationship? Does it constitute a failure to do well by the person who died? Our aim is to respond to two arguments that give affirmative answers to these questions. The first argument, which is developed by Dan Moller in “Love and Death”, states that recovering relatively quickly from grief over the deaths of people who are close to us is deeply regrettable, in one respect, because it means that these people were relatively unimportant to us. The second, which derives from some classic literary discussions of grief, states that such a recovery is regrettable because it amounts to abandoning the person who died. Responding to these arguments promises to dissolve certain anxieties about whether we do well by the people we love when they die. Beyond this, it promises to help us better understand what it means to cultivate good relationships with these people during their lives.
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