Case histories of traumatic grief

Holly G. Prigerson, M. Katherine Shear, Andrew J. Bierhals, Paul A. Pilkonis, Lee Wolfson, Martica Hall, Dianna L. Zonarich, Charles F. Reynolds

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

The symptoms of traumatic grief have been shown to be distinct from those of bereavement-related depression and anxiety among elderly widows and widowers, and bare striking resemblance to symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In light of the findings demonstrating that traumatic grief is associated with a heightened risk of critical mental and physical health outcomes, it is important to understand the underlying mechanisms that may put bereaved individuals at risk of developing traumatic grief. Attachment theory offers an explanation for why loss of a stabilizing relationship might be traumatic for individuals who possess insecure or unstable attachments (e.g., excessive dependency, defensive separation, compulsive caregiving) and self-regulatory deficits (e.g., identity disturbances, difficulty with affect modulation). A model illustrating hypothesized causal linkages between childhood experiences, attachment and personality traits, dissolution of a stabilizing relationship, and traumatic symptomatology is proposed. Case histories of late-life pre- and post-loss traumatic grievers are presented and discussed in terms of their compatibility with the proposed model.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKinship Bereavement in Later Life
Subtitle of host publicationA Special Issue of "OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying"
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages9-24
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781351843461
ISBN (Print)9780895031822
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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