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The role of religious and spiritual belief and practice in coping and adjusting to spousal bereavement in later life.

The role of religious and spiritual belief and practice in coping and adjusting to spousal bereavement in later life.
The role of religious and spiritual belief and practice in coping and adjusting to spousal bereavement in later life.
The death of a spouse is a distressing life event that is most common in later life. Recently, a small body of research has suggested that religion and spirituality can have a beneficial influence on bereavement outcome. The aim of the present thesis was to investigate how Christian religious/spiritual belief and practice can facilitate coping and adjustment to spousal bereavement in later life.

The present thesis reports four studies, two qualitative and two quantitative. Study 1 was a longitudinal follow-up of survivors from a previous study of spousal bereavement, and investigated experiences of longer term coping and adjustment. Results identified that participants used both religious and secular resources in adjustment and that those with a strong religious belief reported adjustment marked by the least difficulties. Study 2 focused on older adults with a strong Christian belief and aimed to identify the religious content and practice most important in coping with spousal bereavement. Interpretative phenomenological analysis revealed four main themes: benevolent religious cognition, Biblical assurances, religious ritual, and spiritual capital, that in different ways were related to meaning reconstruction. As religious ritual seemed important yet is under researched, Study 3 aimed to develop the first scale of its kind to measure religious ritual. A 35-item scale was developed, named the Importance of Religious Ritual Scale, and psychometric properties were provided including factor structure, construct validity, internal consistency reliability, and temporal reliability. Study 4 included the religious ritual scale in a cross-sectional study comparing salient religious and secular variables in predicting grief, depression, and anxiety in recently bereaved older adults. Results revealed that high importance of religious ritual was a predictor of lower grief and depression; and daily spiritual experience was a predictor of lower anxiety.

It is proposed that benevolent religious beliefs and religious scripture are used in meaningmaking processes, while religious ritual and religious/spiritual emotions are primarily used in managing and regulating grief-related affect. Findings are discussed within existing bereavement theory
Spreadbury, J.H.
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Spreadbury, J.H.
164cd819-25dc-49c0-8630-1518a80fc3e6
Coleman, P.G.
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Spreadbury, J.H. (2011) The role of religious and spiritual belief and practice in coping and adjusting to spousal bereavement in later life. University of Southampton, School of Psychology, Doctoral Thesis, 354pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The death of a spouse is a distressing life event that is most common in later life. Recently, a small body of research has suggested that religion and spirituality can have a beneficial influence on bereavement outcome. The aim of the present thesis was to investigate how Christian religious/spiritual belief and practice can facilitate coping and adjustment to spousal bereavement in later life.

The present thesis reports four studies, two qualitative and two quantitative. Study 1 was a longitudinal follow-up of survivors from a previous study of spousal bereavement, and investigated experiences of longer term coping and adjustment. Results identified that participants used both religious and secular resources in adjustment and that those with a strong religious belief reported adjustment marked by the least difficulties. Study 2 focused on older adults with a strong Christian belief and aimed to identify the religious content and practice most important in coping with spousal bereavement. Interpretative phenomenological analysis revealed four main themes: benevolent religious cognition, Biblical assurances, religious ritual, and spiritual capital, that in different ways were related to meaning reconstruction. As religious ritual seemed important yet is under researched, Study 3 aimed to develop the first scale of its kind to measure religious ritual. A 35-item scale was developed, named the Importance of Religious Ritual Scale, and psychometric properties were provided including factor structure, construct validity, internal consistency reliability, and temporal reliability. Study 4 included the religious ritual scale in a cross-sectional study comparing salient religious and secular variables in predicting grief, depression, and anxiety in recently bereaved older adults. Results revealed that high importance of religious ritual was a predictor of lower grief and depression; and daily spiritual experience was a predictor of lower anxiety.

It is proposed that benevolent religious beliefs and religious scripture are used in meaningmaking processes, while religious ritual and religious/spiritual emotions are primarily used in managing and regulating grief-related affect. Findings are discussed within existing bereavement theory

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Published date: 18 July 2011
Organisations: University of Southampton, Psychology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 193657
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/193657
PURE UUID: bb199e4a-3492-4372-9865-9418136191d6

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Date deposited: 18 Jul 2011 12:35
Last modified: 30 Jul 2020 04:01

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