The dual process model of coping with bereavement: rationale and description

Death Stud. 1999 Apr-May;23(3):197-224. doi: 10.1080/074811899201046.


There are shortcomings in traditional theorizing about effective ways of coping with bereavement, most notably, with respect to the so-called "grief work hypothesis." Criticisms include imprecise definition, failure to represent dynamic processing that is characteristic of grieving, lack of empirical evidence and validation across cultures and historical periods, and a limited focus on intrapersonal processes and on health outcomes. Therefore, a revised model of coping with bereavement, the dual process model, is proposed. This model identifies two types of stressors, loss- and restoration-oriented, and a dynamic, regulatory coping process of oscillation, whereby the grieving individual at times confronts, at other times avoids, the different tasks of grieving. This model proposes that adaptive coping is composed of confrontation--avoidance of loss and restoration stressors. It also argues the need for dosage of grieving, that is, the need to take respite from dealing with either of these stressors, as an integral part of adaptive coping. Empirical research to support this conceptualization is discussed, and the model's relevance to the examination of complicated grief, analysis of subgroup phenomena, as well as interpersonal coping processes, is described.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Stress, Psychological