THE EXPERIENCE OF PARTNER LOSS IN OLDER ADULTS - A QUALITATIVE INVESTIGATION
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The experience of partner loss in older adults was explored through a qualitative analysis of seven semi - structured interviews. Interviews were analysed using the grounded theory principles of continuous comparison outlined by Strauss & Corbin (1990), and the broad areas of the Grief Experience, Grief Process, Influences on the Grief Experience. Positive Outcomes, and Reflective Aspects of Grief were developed. The study showed that the experience of grief and the ways in which people respond to it are widespread and complex. Although no firm conclusions can be drawn about the wider population from such a small sample, the seven interviewees within the study gave reports that suggested that age, position in the life cycle, and the influence of birth-year-defined cohort values influenced their experience of grief and the way in which they set about dealing with it. In addition, findings showed support for the recent theoretical position that a bereavement is experienced as a continuation, rather than a dislocation from, their lives. The pre-death period is important to the meaning of the loss, and an active relationship with the deceased is frequently established which appears functional. The implications of these findings for interventions with the bereaved are discussed.
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