Personal Growth through Spousal Bereavement in Later Life

노년기 배우자 사별 후 적응과정에서의 개인적 성장

  • Received : 2013.08.26
  • Accepted : 2013.10.04
  • Published : 2013.11.30


This study purposes to explore the growing process through spousal bereavement in later life, and to develop the theory. A qualitative research was conducted, and the participants were 17 seniors. The analysis according to Strauss and Corbin's grounded theory(1998), resulted in 143 concepts, 43 subcategories, and 19 categories. Range analysis according to paradigm showed that the causal conditions were 'marital relationships', 'independent/dependent tendencies', and 'emotional readiness for the death of a spouse', and the phenomena were 'depression', 'hopelessness', 'daily stress', 'psychological intimidation', 'regret', and 'sense of being freed'. The contextual conditions that affect these phenomena were 'desire for intimate personal relationships' and 'desire to maintain independence'; the action/interaction strategies to manage the phenomena were 'facing reality' and 'efforts for construction of the new life'; and the mediating conditions that promote or suppress these action/interaction strategies were 'social support' and 'spirituality'. The results were 'reconstruction of the meaning in life', 'increase in self-esteem', 'reinforcement of social network' and 'embrace and acceptance'. Furthermore, when personal growth after bereavement of a spouse was analyzed focusing on changes over time, the growth process consisted of three steps: 'sadness and despair', 'embracing and moving forward', and 'personal growth'. The pattern analyses were performed to typify recurring relations by category, and 5 types were derived. The results of our study show that personal growth after spousal loss is an integrative process in life after crisis, and can be conceptualized as the process of overcoming the despair that immediately follows the death of a spouse, seeking a new life by actively taking control, and discovering a strengthened self.


Supported by : 한국연구재단