Gender differences in complicated grief among the elderly

Andrew J. Bierhals, Holly G. Prigerson, Amy Fasiczka, Ellen Frank, Mark Miller, Charles F. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The resolution of grief has been frequently posited to progress through stages. Seventy-one widows and twenty-six widowers bereaved from five months to thirty-seven years were studied to determine if their resolution of grief-related symptoms could be mapped onto a stage theory of grief and to examine if men and women follow the same temporal course. An analysis of variance was used to test for differences in complicated grief symptoms over time and between widows and widowers. Widowers bereaved three years or longer were found to have increased bitterness. By contrast, widows who were bereaved three years and beyond were found to have lower levels of complicated grief. These preliminary findings suggest that grief may not resolve in stages and that symptoms of complicated grief may not decline significantly over time. Rather symptoms of complicated grief appear to remain stable at least for the first three years of bereavement for both men and women but, thereafter, among widowers tend to increase and among widows to decrease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-317
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996


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