Award Date

8-1-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Jason M. Holland

Second Committee Member

Stephen Benning

Third Committee Member

Murray Millar

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Keene

Number of Pages

87

Abstract

Unfinished business(incomplete, unexpressed or unresolved relationship issues with the deceased) is frequently discussed as a risk factor for chronic and severe grief reactions. However, few empirical studies have examined this construct. The present study aimed to address this gap in the literature by examining the presence and severity of unfinished business as well as common themes of unfinished business reported in open-ended qualitative narratives among a sample of 256 bereaved individuals. In bivariate analyses, self-reported presence of unfinished business and the severity of distress due to unfinished business were both found to be associated with higher levels of distress and poorer outcomes. However, after controlling for potential confounds, distress related to unfinished business emerged as a more robust correlate of bereavement outcomes. Qualitative responses were categorized and the type of reported unfinished business was not significantly related to the degree of unfinished business distress or other bereavement outcomes. Implications of these findings for clinical practice and future research are discussed.

Keywords

Attachment; Attachment behavior; Bereavement; Bereavement – Psychological aspects; Continuing bonds; Grief; Prolonged grief; Unfinished business

Disciplines

Clinical Psychology | Psychology

Language

English


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