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Psychol Bull. 1999 Nov;125(6):760-76.

Toward an integrative perspective on bereavement.

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Department of Psychology, Catholic University of America, USA.


For nearly a century, bereavement theorists have assumed that recovery from loss requires a period of grief work in which the ultimate goal is the severing of the attachment bond to the deceased. Reviews appearing in the 1980s noted a surprising absence of empirical support for this view, thus leaving the bereavement field without a guiding theoretical base. In this article, the authors consider alternative perspectives on bereavement that are based on cognitive stress theory, attachment theory, the social-functional account of emotion, and trauma theory. They then elaborate on the most promising features of each theory in an attempt to develop an integrative framework to guide future research. The authors elucidate 4 fundamental components of the grieving process--context, meaning, representations of the lost relationship, and coping and emotion-regulation processes--and suggest ways in which these components may interact over the course of bereavement.

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