In good times and in bad: A longitudinal analysis of the impact of bereavement on self-esteem and life satisfaction in couples

Anne Reitz, Rebekka Weidmann, Jenna Wünsche, Janina Bühler, Robert Burriss, Alexander Grob

Research output: Working paperScientific

Abstract

This study examines the impact of bereavement on self-esteem and life satisfaction in both partners of a romantic couple. We investigate the moderating effects of the type of the lost relationship (close family, close friends/others) and romantic relationship characteristics (daily social support, responsiveness-closeness, self-disclosure). We examined 1,238 individuals in 619 male-female couples from the ages 18 to 81 (M[SD] = 31.97 years [13.26]). Both partners completed questionnaires at two assessments that were 20 months (SD = 2.02 months) apart, in between which n = 216 individuals were bereaved. Actor-partner interdependence models showed that bereavement did not predict later self-esteem or life satisfaction in either of the partners. The relationship characteristics and the type of lost relationship did not moderate the effects. The subjective meaning and distress of the loss predicted later self-esteem and life satisfaction. The self-esteem increase was larger for bereaved with a positive/neutral than for bereaved with a negative meaning. We found a partner effect on self-esteem for the group of bereaved who reported a negative meaning. The findings demonstrate that bereavement can impact romantic partners' self-esteem and that the subjective experience of bereavement helps understand individual differences in the effect of bereavement on self-esteem and life satisfaction.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPsyArXiv Preprints
Number of pages75
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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