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Bereavement-related regrets and unfinished business with the deceased

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Unresolved relational issues with the deceased have been considered a prominent risk factor for negative bereavement outcomes. However, this area of study has suffered from a lack of conceptual clarity, with some commentators focusing on bereavement-related regret and others focusing on “unfinished business,” or lingering or unspoken conflicts with the deceased. This study examined the two concepts in a sample of 229 bereaved individuals, finding them to be overlapping but distinct constructs. Unfinished business occurred more frequently with immediate family and friends and in cases of sudden and violent death of loved ones. Both forms of unresolved issues were associated with bereavement outcome, with the relation between distress over unfinished business and complicated grief symptomatology being particularly robust.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Lifespark, Nashville, Tennessee, USA; 2: Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; 3: VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington, USA; 4: Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Publication date: January 2, 2020

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