Title

The Loss Effect: Psychological Aspects Of Mortality Among The Widowed

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1980

Published In

Psychologische Beitrage

Abstract

Reviews empirical evidence for the risk of mortality among widows. The argument is developed that the risk is especially high for the widowed who react to bereavement with feelings of hopelessness, one of the major consequences of perceived loss of control. Important aspects of partner loss in this context are social comparison problems, deficits in social and emotional support, and difficulties in coping with tasks previously undertaken by the spouse. It is concluded that a poorer outcome will result when there was a great interdependence between partners and when there is less chance that an alternative person will adopt some of the lost spouse's functions. Close attachment between partners is not a prerequisite for the loss effect, as each may fulfill important functions for the other although strong emotional ties no longer exist. A discussion is included on the relationship between psychological and physical effects of partner loss.

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