Expression of grief and personal growth in divorced and widowed older adults

Brodbeck, Jeannette; Knöpfli, Bina; Znoj, Hans Jörg; Perrig-Chiello, Pasqualina (12 July 2016). Expression of grief and personal growth in divorced and widowed older adults (Unpublished). In: 24th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD). Vilnius, Litauen. 10.-14.07.2016.

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Divorce and spousal bereavement in later life cause distress and require adaptation to a new life situation but can also lead to personal growth. However, few studies compare the reactions after different types of relationship-related life events and it remains unclear how the type of the event affects the expression of grief and personal growth. Firstly, we examined whether the expression of grief and personal growth was distinct in divorced and widowed older adults. Secondly, we compared the level of prolonged grief and personal growth after both events. The sample included participants from a longitudinal study on relationships in later life which is part of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research ‘LIVES – Overcoming vulnerability: life course perspectives’. A total of 795 divorced and widowed older adults (65% women, 45% divorced, 55% widowed) with a mean age of 64 years (SD = 13 years) were compared in terms of their reactions to interpersonal loss. Symptoms of grief were assessed with the Prolonged Grief Questionnaire (PG-13, Prigerson et al. 2008). Posttraumatic growth was measured with the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI-SF, Cann et al, 2010) which was developed for assessing personal growth after different critical life events. Testing for differential item functioning, we found that emotional symptoms of grief such as yearning and emotional pain as well as avoiding reminders of the loss were differentially influenced by the type of the loss. In divorced individuals, yearning for the ex-partner, strong feelings of emotional pain and avoiding reminders of the loss were indicators of very high levels of prolonged grief. In widowed participants, these symptoms were rather common and were not related to higher levels of grief. Other symptoms such as trouble accepting the loss or reductions in social functioning were not affected by differential item functioning. In contrast to grief, the expression of personal growth after divorce and bereavement was similar apart from one exception. Widowed participant who reported that they had established a new path for their lives had a considerably higher level of posttraumatic growth than divorced participants who endorsed the same response categories. Taking these differences in the expression of grief and personal growth into account, divorced participants reported significantly lower levels of prolonged grief but similar levels of personal growth than bereaved older adults.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)

Division/Institute:

07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy

UniBE Contributor:

Brodbeck, Jeannette; Knöpfli, Bina; Znoj, Hans Jörg and Perrig-Chiello, Pasqualina

Subjects:

100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health

Funders:

[85] NCCR LIVES

Language:

English

Submitter:

Katja Margelisch

Date Deposited:

05 Aug 2016 16:33

Last Modified:

13 Sep 2017 02:55

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.85156

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/85156

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