Monday, June 30, 2014

Death as Metaphor 11: Speaking with the Dead through Symbolic Play

Dealing with loss is a form of meaning-making; of making the unfamiliar familiar; of nourishing the future to be less frightening. Writers make use of this phenomenon in poetry and their writing.

As children, we construct meaning as we use symbolic play to make sense of our world: the past, the present, and the future. We learn to appreciate things and recreate others. Through this ‘pretend play’, our imagination plays a key role in our development and formation of ideas about the world.

For instance, children engage in dialogue with inanimate objects. Picture a child pretending to talk to a doll. Can adults pretend to speak with the dead?

It’s possible some adults create dialogues with the deceased. Inanimate objects such as the grave, or skull, or ash function in the same way as the doll.

Through this literal context, real life situations and the dead are being emotionally dealt with non-literally.

According to Ingrid E. Josephs*, the formation of ideas assist in our anticipation of our own death since we shape our imagination, we construct our world by building metaphors, building fantasy, and transforming the self in relation to the world throughout our life time

Therefore, the metaphors and symbolic play help us build meaning of our world.

 
 

source * Josephs, Ingrid E. “Constructing One’s Self in the City of the Silent: Dialogue, Symbols, and the Role of ‘As-If’ in Self-Development.” Human Development 41.3 May-June 1998; 180-195. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 November 2010.

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