Parents grieving the loss of their child: Interdependence in coping


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Abstract

Objectives.A longitudinal study was conducted among bereaved parents, to examine the relationship between parents' own and their partners' ways of coping in terms of the constructs loss-orientation and restoration-orientation (coping strategies based on the bereavement-specific Dual Process Model (Stroebe & Schut, 1999)), and psychological adjustment following the death of their child.Method.219 couples participated at 6, 13 and 20 months post-loss. Use of the Actor Partner Interdependence Model within multi-level regression analyses enabled assessment of both actor as well as partner effects, and permitted differentiating these effects according to the gender of the parent.Results.Loss-orientation was predictive of negative psychological adjustment, while restoration-orientation was related to better adjustment. Furthermore, high levels of restoration-oriented coping buffered the negative effect of high levels of loss-orientation on depression. In the interpersonal context, results indicated that for men, having a female partner high in restoration-oriented coping was related to positive adjustment.Conclusion.In coping with the loss of their child, intra-personal as well as interpersonal processes are relevant for the adjustment process of parents after the loss of their child.

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