Partner-Oriented Self-Regulation among bereaved parents: The costs of holding in grief for the partner’s sake

M.S. Stroebe, C. Finkenauer, L. Wijngaards-de Meij, H. Schut, J. van den Bout, W. Stroebe

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Bereavement research has focused on individual rather than interdependent processes in coping with loss. Yet bereavement takes place in a social context, and relationship partners are likely to influence each other's grieving process. We examined the impact of a dynamic, interpersonal phenomenon, partner-oriented self-regulation (POSR): the avoidance of talking about loss and remaining strong in the partner's presence to protect the partner. Two hundred nineteen couples who had lost a child participated 6, 13, and 20 months after their loss. Consistent with predictions, results showed that one partner's POSR was associated not only with an increase in his or her own grief, but also with an increase in the other partner's grief. These relationships persisted over time: Self-reported and partner-reported POSR predicted later grief. These results are paradoxical: Although parents try to protect their partners through POSR, this effort has the opposite of the desired outcome. These findings underline the importance of further investigating interpersonal dynamics of coping with bereavement. © The Author(s) 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-402
JournalPsychological Science
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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