Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology, Clinical-Community

Date of Defense

7-21-2006

Graduate Advisor

Ann Steffen, Ph.D.

Committee

Kathleen Haywood, Ph.D.

Michael Griffin, Ph.D.

Terri Conley, Ph.D.

John Chibnall, Ph.D.

Abstract

Researchers have begun to examine the theory that religion may help bereaved individuals to provide meaning to an otherwise inconceivable event. In addition, work by Janoff-Bulman (1989; 1992) and others (see Kauffman, 2002) has spawned a growing understanding that bereavement forces individuals to restructure and rebuild previously held assumptions about the self and the world. This study examined mediator-moderator effects of positive and negative religious coping on relationships between grief intensity and world assumptions in 117 mothers bereaved by the death of a child (homicide, illness, or accident). Mothers with higher grief intensity rated the world as less meaningful and benevolent and themselves as less worthy than mothers with lower grief. Religious coping mediated these relationships. Bereaved mothers who employed more positive religious coping perceived the world as more meaningful and benevolent and themselves as more worthy than mothers who used less positive religious coping. Mothers who employed more negative religious coping perceived the world as less meaningful than mothers who used less negative religious coping. There were no significant moderator effects. Results suggest that the negative associations of grief with world assumptions may be, in part, offset when grief is processed through positive religious coping and enhanced when grief is processed through negative religious coping. Clinical implications and directions for future research are also addressed.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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