Parents grieving the loss of their child: Interdependence in coping

Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
British Journal of Clinical Psychology (Impact Factor: 2.28). 04/2008; 47(Pt 1):31-42. DOI: 10.1348/014466507X216152
Source: PubMed


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.
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.
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.
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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    • "However, contrary to Rogers et al. (2008), Song et al.'s study measured marital quality and obtained data from both members of each married couple. Similarly, the studies by Wijngaards-de Meij et al. (2007), (2008) and Stroebe et al. (2013a) used the same sample. However, because the aims of the studies differed, these were also treated independently. "
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    ABSTRACT: When a child dies, the parents must address the changes in their relationship as well as the way that these changes affect their individual adjustment. These two perspectives are addressed in this systematic review. Five databases were systematically searched for papers published in English between January 2000 and February 2014. Of the 646 publications, 24 papers met the inclusion criteria. The results suggest that a child’s death can cause cohesive as well as detrimental effects on a couple’s relationship. Variables that may produce differential outcomes for the marital relationship include situational factors, such as the cause and type of death and the child’s age at the time of death; dyad-level factors, such as surviving children, the pre-death characteristics of the relationship, communication and incongruent grieving; and individual-level factors, such as the family of origin’s processing of trauma, social support, religious affiliation and finding meaning. Aspects such as marital quality and the couple’s interdependence were found to influence each parent’s individual adjustment. Larger, prospective, ethically conducted studies should be implemented to consolidate these findings. Mental health professionals may benefit from a deeper understanding of the risk and protective factors regarding marital adjustment after a child’s death.
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    • "There is some support that attachment is related to symptomatology in females only [19] [20]. Similarly, sex influences the impact of coping on the stress–illness relationship [15] [21]. Although reports of sex differences in the efficacy of coping are diverging [22], several studies have found that emotion-focused coping is more detrimental in males and may even be adaptive in females [23] [24]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective Parents bereaved by infant death experience a wide range of symptomatology, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that may persist for years after the loss. Little research has been conducted on PTSD in fathers who have lost an infant. Mothers report most symptoms to a greater extent than fathers, but not much is known about other sex differences following infant death. Method The present cross-sectional study examined sex differences in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sex differences in the relationship between PTSD severity and related variables. Subjects were 361 mothers and 273 fathers who had lost an infant either late in pregnancy, during birth, or in the first year of life. Participants filled out questionnaires between 1.2 months and 18 years after the loss (M=3.4 years). Results Mothers reported significantly more PTSD symptoms, attachment anxiety, emotion-focused coping, and feeling let down, but significantly lower levels of attachment avoidance than fathers. Attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance, and emotion-focused coping were significantly more strongly associated with PTSD severity in mothers than fathers, but only when examined alone. When all variables and time since the loss were examined together, there were no longer any significant moderation effects of sex. Conclusions Persistent posttraumatic symptomatology exists in both mothers and fathers long after the loss. There are several sex differences in severity and correlates of PTSD and a few moderation effects were identified for attachment and emotion-focused coping. Overall, more similarities than differences were found between mothers and fathers in the associations between PTSD and covariates.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2014 · General Hospital Psychiatry
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    • "Les personnes qui se centreraient exclusivement sur une orientation dé velopperaient des deuils compliqué s : une orientation extrême a ` la perte induirait un deuil chronique (les symptô mes de deuil sont intenses et prolongé s), alors qu'une orientation extrême a ` la restauration induirait un deuil absent ou inhibé 1 . Plusieurs e ´ tudes ont testé les hypothè ses du DPM et commencent a ` le confirmer [3] [5] [15] [16] [23]. Un ré cent essai clinique contrô lé randomisé a d'ailleurs montré qu'une [ "
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    ABSTRACT: Psychotherapeutic interventions are is not as efficient as one could expect. Theoretical and empirical data suggest that the therapist must identify and focus on psychological processes that underline and maintain the grieving difficulties rather than focus on its symptoms or consequences. Different processes, sometimes opposite ones, can initiate a reaction. It thus seems essential that the therapist adapts his/her interventions in function of the processes that are blocked in the bereaved person. Grief processes are in essence relational processes linked to the loss of an affective tie. Working on and with the therapeutic relationship also appears as a fundamental factor of efficiency. This requires not only understanding and respecting the bereaved person, but also developing a state of congruence for the therapist.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Annales Médico-psychologiques revue psychiatrique
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