Unfinished business and self-blaming emotions among those bereaved by a COVID-19 death

Sherman A. Lee, Robert A. Neimeyer, Vincent O. Mancini, Lauren J. Breen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In view of the mounting death toll of COVID-19 worldwide and the complicating circumstances that commonly accompany such losses, we studied the grief experiences of 209 adult mourners who lost a loved one to coronavirus with a focus on self-blaming emotions and unresolved issues with the deceased. We found universal endorsement of one or more forms of self-blame (guilt, regret, shame) or unfinished business (UB), with over one-third of mourners endorsing all four experiences. Those having a closer relationship to the deceased reported both greater distress over UB and more intense and dysfunctional grief symptomatology. Strikingly, unresolved conflict, a major dimension of UB, accounted for nearly 40% of the unique variance in problematic grief, which bore no relation to time since the loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1297-1306
Number of pages10
JournalDeath Studies
Volume46
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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