Repeated Bereavement Takes Its Toll on Subjective Well-Being

Frank J. Infurna, Axel Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and Objectives: The bereavement literature has shown that losing close loved ones can lead to sustained declines in quality of life. Research in this area has typically focused on singular bereavement events, such as the loss of a spouse or child. Much less is known regarding the consequences of repeated bereavement or repeated losses in one's social network. Research Design and Methods: We use longitudinal panel survey data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia study to examine the effect of repeated bereavement in one's social network on cognitive and affective measures of subjective well-being and whether there are age differences in the magnitude of these effects across young adulthood, midlife, and old age. To address our research questions, we use a multiple-group discontinuous change model with random effects. Results: Repeated deaths in one's social network had a nonlinear effect on life satisfaction and positive affect, suggesting that individuals were able to adapt to two bereavements, but each bereavement beyond two resulted in sustained lower levels. Negative affect did not show increases because of repeated bereavements. Repeated bereavement had the strongest effect for those in young adulthood and old age. Discussion and Implications: Our findings demonstrate that repeated bereavement has consequences for subjective well-being and that young and older adults are most vulnerable to repeated bereavement. Our discussion focuses on the conceptual and methodological advancements of our study for the examination of major life stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberigz047
JournalInnovation in Aging
Volume3
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adult life-span development
  • Household Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia Study (HILDA)
  • Multilevel modeling
  • Reaction and adaptation to life events
  • Repeated adversity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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