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The Relationship Between Spirituality, and Coping Skills and Depression Among Bereaved Individuals

by Cheryl A. Falkenstein, M.Ed.
Temple University

The loss of a loved one is a devastating experience for most people. Grief is accompanied by many distressing psychological, physiological, and social reactions. The bereavement process presents severe risks such as increased mortality rates, suicide, mental illnesses, impaired coping skills, and social maladjustment for grievers. During these times of potential crises, spirituality offers compatible strengths for bereaved individuals that may reduce pathological bereavement outcomes.

The proposed study will investigate the relationship between spirituality, and coping skills and depression among bereaved individuals after controlling for social support. Participants will be bereaved men and women ages eighteen and older who have experienced the death of a significant person between two and twelve months from the time of the study. The participants will complete six measures: a Demographic Information Form, the Index of Core Spiritual Experiences, the Ways of Coping Scale, the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale, and the Perceived Social Support Scale. A multivariate analysis of covariance will be performed. The two hypotheses are as follows: bereaved individuals with high levels of spirituality will report 1) high levels of coping skills, and 2) lover levels of depression, than bereaved individuals with low levels of spirituality after controlling for social support.

The proposed study will make significant contributions to psychological research, theory, and practice. Methodological improvements include the use of psychometrically sound measures, large sample size, and a covariate. The consideration of spirituality in bereavement theory and clinical practice will also be enhanced as a result of the findings.

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