The Deceased

The below is an extract from: Unraveling Family Secrets. Bert Hellinger interviewed on Family Constellations, By Humberto del Pozo in Santiago de Chile, September 1999.

I’m not clear what you mean when you say, “recognize his love and honor his fate.”

When a child dies, the other members of the family tend to become afraid -in part because they also, perhaps unconsciously, feel the kind of love that makes them want to follow the child. In order to contain their fear, they deaden their feelings. They effectively shut the child out of their hearts and souls. They may talk about the child, but they’ve cut off their feelings. Then, even though the child is dead, he or she is still having a deadening effect on the family system, a deadening of feeling. For love to succeed, the child must have a place in the family, just as if he or she were living. The surviving members of the family must live their feelings for the child and their grief. They might put up a picture of the child, or plant a tree in the child’s memory.

But the most important thing is that the survivors take the deceased with them into life, and allow their love for the child to live. A lot of people act as if the dead were gone. But where can they go? Obviously, they’re physically absent, but they’re also present in their continuing effects on the living. When they have their appropriate place in the family, deceased persons have a friendly effect. Otherwise, they cause anxiety. When they get their proper place, they support the living in living instead of supporting them in the illusion that they should die.

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