Applied Psychology and Counselor Education
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
This study examined the possible moderating effect afterlife beliefs and attachment have on the impact of continuing bonds on complicated grief. Although research has examined the relationship between attachment and complicated grief, and between afterlife beliefs and complicated grief, little is known about how these constructs interact with continuing bonds to affect complicated grief symptomatology. Research questions asked: (a) Does complicated grief symptomology (CGS) severity differ between individuals who hold afterlife beliefs versus those who do not? (b) Does the presence of internalized continuing bonds (ICB) expressions differ between individuals who hold afterlife beliefs versus those who do not? (c) Does attachment insecurity moderate the relationship between ICB and CGS? (d) Does the strength of an individual’s afterlife beliefs moderate the relationship between ICB and CGS? To answer these questions, a cross-sectional design was used. A convenience sample of bereaved university students (n = 175) was collected, and a MANOVA and a hierarchical regression were run. Initial analyses showed that neither CGS nor ICB differed according to afterlife belief. Additionally, neither attachment insecurity nor afterlife beliefs moderated the relationship between ICB and CGS. Post hoc analyses, which used all participants, regardless of their expressed afterlife beliefs, found that CGS still did not differ according to afterlife belief, but ICB did. Specifically, Individuals who reported afterlife beliefs reported significantly more ICB than those that were unsure of their afterlife beliefs. Furthermore, in a hierarchical regression, strength of afterlife beliefs predicted the use of ICB. Post hoc analyses also found that afterlife beliefs moderated the relationship between ICB and CGS, with ICB becoming less predictive of CGS as strength of afterlife belief increased. Additionally, post hoc analyses were run using the ECB subscale of the CBS-R. These analyses found that ECB did not differ according to afterlife beliefs. Furthermore, afterlife beliefs and attachment avoidance individually both moderated the relationship between ECB and CGS, with ECB being less predictive of CGS as strength of each attachment anxiety and afterlife beliefs increased. Lastly it was found that a belief that one would be reunited explained a significant amount of variance in ICB expressions. Overall, the results from this study added to the literature on continuing bonds, afterlife beliefs, attachment, and grief. It also provides some implications for future research and clinical implications that suggest that the impact ICB and ECB have on CGS may be influenced by the strength of afterlife beliefs. Furthermore, this study provides evidence that ICB expressions are related to afterlife beliefs. This study also emphasized the need to measure ICB and ECB as separate constructs and indicated afterlife beliefs may best be measured as a continuous variable.
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