Similarities and differences in couples' grief reactions following a miscarriage: results from a longitudinal study

J Psychosom Res. 1996 Mar;40(3):245-53. doi: 10.1016/0022-3999(95)00520-x.

Abstract

Recent studies have documented grief and depressive reactions in women after a miscarriage. However, the men's reactions to their partner's experience have been neglected. In a controlled follow-up study, 56 couples were studied shortly after the miscarriage, and 6 (N = 47) and 12 months later (N = 45). The participants completed standardized questionnaires for depression, physical complaints, anxiety, and grief. Contrary to commonly held beliefs, men do grieve, but less intensely and enduringly than their partners. The manner in which they experience their grief is similar to that of the women, except that the men cry less and feel less need to talk about it. Unlike the women they do not react with an increased depressive reaction (compared to age- and sex-matched community control groups). Giving up their personal expectations, hopes for, and fantasies about the unborn child is a major source of grieving for both. Some men feel burdened by their wives' grief or depressive reactions. Conflicting reactions may affect the couples' interactions and promote depressive reactions in the women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / psychology*
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marital Therapy
  • Personality Inventory
  • Pregnancy
  • Spouses / psychology