Spousal Bereavement in Late Life

Spousal Bereavement in Late Life

Spousal Bereavement in Late Life

Spousal Bereavement in Late Life

Synopsis

This volume provides insightful analysis and theoretical interpretation of factors that contribute to a range of adjustment patterns among bereaved persons in late life. It places the experience of widowhood in late life squarely within the context of contemporary society and explores a remarkable range of associated issues. The volume is destined to become a classic; it will set the standard for future empirical investigation of the experience of bereavement among older adults.

Excerpt

Early in June 2002, I eagerly set off from Europe to attend a small conference/workshop at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I had been invited to participate in a meeting entitled [Changing Lives of Older Couples (CLOC): Exploring Bereavement among Older Adults.] I knew that the CLOC study — on which this edited volume is based — was one of the largest investigations of its kind ever to have been conducted, incorporating features that make it not only ambitious but also methodologically sophisticated. Unlike nearly all previous investigations, the CLOC design was prospective: pre-bereavement data were available, to enable comparisons before and after spousal loss. The study also included carefully matched non-bereaved controls, a feature that was lacking in much of the earlier bereavement research. Furthermore, the study focused on couples. Previous work had typically focused only on the bereaved individual, failing to take relationship factors into account. In the absence of data from couples prior to the death, researchers were forced to rely on the bereaved persons memories of the deceased. Clearly, couple-related factors are critical in determining the course and consequences of bereavement.

Fascinating publications based on this study were already appearing with increasing frequency in the top academic journals back in 2002. However, the conference permitted the opportunity to learn much more, firsthand, about the whole project. Presentations by the team of scholars associated with the CLOC study provided fresh insights into cutting-edge issues in aging and bereavement. Then, with the guidance of the research team, participants were encouraged to initiate their own analyses of the CLOC data set during the conference week, delving into topics of personal interest. In fact, this summer workshop marked the public release of the data set, such that scholars from all over the world would have access to it. What better way for researchers to go about the collection and dissemination of scientific knowledge!

Understandably, having been introduced to the CLOC study in this manner, I have kept closely in touch with further developments. It is my sense that the publication of this volume, Spousal Bereavement in Late Life, edited by Deborah Carr, Randolph Nesse, and Camille Wortman, marks a [coming of age] of the . . .

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