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The Experience of Grief: The Role of Mindfulness, Communication, and Social Support
AuthorSkaar, Theresa B
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This dissertation contributes to the literature through the investigation of mindfulness, communication, and social interaction/support as pathways toward coping with the experience of grief. The focus of the current study was on the intersection and impact of these factors on coping with the experience of grief later in life. Specifically, it investigated how women ages 50 and older grieve the loss of their mothers. Since grief and coping with loss due to death occur in a social context, the research presented here incorporates communication and social support in addition to mindfulness. The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement (DPM) was used as a framework to identify the coping mechanisms in this population related to mindfulness, communication, and social support. The DPM differentiates between loss- and restoration-orientated coping. A mixed methods design was used. Qualitative data were collected in Study 1 through a series of semi-structured one-on-one interviews. The themes identified in Study 1were used to inform Study 2. Quantitative data were collected in Study 2 through a survey that was comprised of validated measures and open-ended questions. The findings of these studies support the usefulness of mindfulness when coping with grief. Unexpectedly, Study 1 pointed to the importance of emotional closeness between mother and daughter to coping with the loss of the mother. The results of Study 2 strongly supported the relationship between emotional closeness and the grief experience. Further, the importance of investigating normal and ‘in order’ grief in older populations is indicated.