This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Impact of Coping Strategies, Relationship to the Deceased, and Severity of Prolonged Grief Disorder on Individuals Bereaved by Unexpected Loss




Quadlander-Goff, Emma

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



The loss of a significant other is an inevitable experience that results in a grief response. Extensive grief or prolonged grief can impair mental and physical functioning. The type of death loss, relationship to the deceased prior to death, and coping strategies implemented to alleviate mental health symptoms related to grief can influence the severity and duration of grief. Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) is characterized as extensive yearning and longing for the deceased. The purpose of this study was to examine the severity of PGD among adults bereaved by unexpected or violent loss, assess the relationship with the deceased prior to death, and identify the coping strategies implemented to alleviate PGD. Participants of this study included a sample of 190 individuals that were bereaved by a death loss. Results indicated a statistically significant relationship between dysfunctional coping and PGD severity (p < .001) as measured by the PG-13-R. Specifically, self-distraction, denial, and self-blame as measured by the Brief COPE inventory, demonstrated statistically significant relationships with PGD severity. Moreover, dysfunctional coping was determined to be a statistically significant predictor of PGD severity (p < .001). The QRI-B indicated that individuals with increased closeness to the deceased prior to the death reported heightened scores of PGD (p < .001). These findings can assist counselors in developing treatment modalities that target dysfunctional coping strategies in order to reduce the extensivity of grief. Bereaved individuals may find these results validating and may gain insight into how coping strategies and relationship to the deceased prior to the death contribute to the extensivity and severity of grief; this can encourage bereaved individuals to seek out therapeutic treatment.