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The time course of grief reactions to spousal loss: evidence from a national probability sample

Publication Date
  • Hq The Family. Marriage. Woman
  • Bf Psychology


Most studies of widowhood have focused on reactions during the first few years postloss. The authors investigated whether widowhood had more enduring effects using a nationally representative U.S. sample. Participants were 768 individuals who had lost their spouse (from a few months to 64 years) prior to data collection. Results indicated that the widowed continued to talk, think, and feel emotions about their lost spouse decades later. Twenty years postloss, the widowed thought about their spouse once every week or 2 and had a conversation about their spouse once a month on average. About 12.6 years postloss, the widowed reported feeling upset between sometimes and rarely when they thought about their spouse. These findings add to an understanding of the time course of grief.

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