Prospective patterns of resilience and maladjustment during widowhood

Psychol Aging. 2004 Jun;19(2):260-71. doi: 10.1037/0882-7974.19.2.260.


Using prospective longitudinal data on an older sample beginning prior to the death of a spouse, G. A. Bonanno et al. (2002) distinguished 5 unique trajectories of bereavement outcome: common grief, chronic grief, chronic depression, depression followed by improvement, and resilience. These trajectories having been identified, the aims of the current study were to examine differences in how respondents in each group reacted to and processed the loss. Specific hypotheses were tested regarding differences in coping, meaning making, context, and representations of the lost relationship. Results suggest that chronic grief stems from the upheaval surrounding the loss of a healthy spouse, whereas chronic depression results from more enduring emotional difficulties that are exacerbated by the loss. Both the resilient and the depressed-improved groups showed remarkably healthy profiles and relatively little evidence of either struggling with or denying/avoiding the loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adjustment Disorders / diagnosis
  • Adjustment Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Widowhood / psychology*
  • Widowhood / statistics & numerical data*