Grief processing and deliberate grief avoidance: a prospective comparison of bereaved spouses and parents in the United States and the People's Republic of China

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2005 Feb;73(1):86-98. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.73.1.86.


In this study, the authors measured grief processing and deliberate grief avoidance and examined their relationship to adjustment at 4 and 18 months of bereavement for 2 types of losses (spouse, child) in 2 cultures (People's Republic of China, United States). Three hypotheses were compared: the traditional grief work assumption, a conditional grief work hypothesis, and a view of grief processing as a form of rumination absent among resilient individuals. Although cultural differences in grief processing and avoidance were observed, the factor structure of these measures proved invariant across cultures. Consistent with the grief work as rumination hypothesis, both grief processing and deliberate grief avoidance predicted poor long-term adjustment for U.S. participants. Furthermore, initial grief processing predicted later grief processing in both cultures. However, among the participants in the People's Republic of China, neither grief processing nor deliberate avoidance evidenced clear psychological consequences.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Asian People / psychology*
  • Avoidance Learning*
  • Bereavement*
  • Child
  • China
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Defense Mechanisms*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Spouses / ethnology*
  • Spouses / psychology
  • United States