HARMING AND BENEFITING THE DEAD
The traditional view of grief resolution requires the bereaved person to disengage from the deceased. This is often expressed as a necessary ''letting go'' of the past for the survivor to be free to continue her or his life and form new relationships. Contemporary grief theory, in contrast, recognizes that healthy grieving involves maintaining bonds with the deceased. The relationship between the bereaved person and the person who has died, although transformed, is ongoing. This article takes as its focus one aspect of the continuing relationship between the living and the dead. It begins with the noncontroversial claim that some actions that involve the dead are wrong from an ethical perspective. What is controversial is the explanation of the wrongness of these actions. It is argued that the dead can be harmed by having their interests thwarted and, conversely, they can be benefited by having their interests promoted. Posthumous harm and benefit are possible because people who are now dead possessed interests prior to death that continue to exert a claim after death.
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