What is it about?

Losing a child or a spouse is described as the worst of experiences. However, it is not known whether older adults bereaved of a child, spouse, or both child and spouse experience these losses as among the most important negative events in their lifetime. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the 1,437 older adults bereaved of a child, spouse, or both included in the southern part of the Swedish National Study of Aging and Care mentioned these losses when asked about their three most important negative life events. Gender differences in their choices of important negative life events were also explored.

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Why is it important?

Even though death of child or spouse was describedas among the most important negative life events experienced in the vast majority of thechild-, spouse-or both child-and-spouse-bereaved older adults it is important to acknowledge thata substantial numberof themdid not name these losses at all. Undoubtedly, for most bereaved individuals, the loss of a loved one has profound effects on life. However, of those mentioning negative life events other than the death of a child or spouse, about 10 % described traumas that were not the loss of a loved one. Bereavement research has found that about 80% to 90% of bereaved individuals seem to recover and return to normal levels of well-being. That some do not recove rafter their loss might partly be due to their experiences of other traumatic events.

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This page is a summary of: Exploring the Most Important Negative Life Events in Older Adults Bereaved of Child, Spouse, or Both, OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying, April 2016, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0030222816642453.
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