Self-Identity After Bereavement: Reduced Self-Clarity and Loss-Centrality in Emotional Problems After the Death of a Loved One

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Abstract

There is evidence that both the centrality of a loss-event as well as reduced self-concept clarity are involved in emotional problems after the death of a loved one. One issue that is still unexplored is the relative importance of these two concepts in predicting bereavement outcome. The current study examined the degree to which both concepts contribute to emotional distress after loss, both concurrently and longitudinally. Data were available from 124 individuals, all bereaved within the previous half year, who completed measures of prolonged grief, posttraumatic stress, and depression at inclusion into the study and again 6 months later. Loss-centrality and self-unclarity were associated with all three outcome measures, in cross-sectional analyses. Longitudinal analyses indicated that loss-centrality predicted symptom levels of prolonged grief, self-unclarity predicted symptom levels of depression, and both loss-centrality and self-unclarity were associated with posttraumatic stress 6 months after baseline. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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