Bereavement Following Suicide and Other Deaths: Why Support Attempts Fail
To assess perceptions both of bereaved individuals and of potential comforters across five causes of death, 400 undergraduate volunteers were screened in order to find 112 who either were bereaved in the past two years, or were not but matched a bereaved individual in age and gender. Non-bereaved individuals imagined that they knew and had to talk to someone bereaved under the same circumstances as their yoked bereaved person. Bereaved individuals reported experiencing more unhelpfulness and blame and less interpersonal contact than potential comforters thought they would give, but also reported more recovery and acceptance, more helpful support, and less need for active avoidance, than potential comforters imagined. People apparently view bereaved individuals as extremely vulnerable. Across all types of death, suicide involved most variability in social support, accidents involved most blame, and homicide involved most loss of belonging support and feeling that the death was not real. Perhaps because of these misconceptions, nonbereaved comforters may hypothetically be able to provide helpful support, but in reality be unable to carry these out.
OMEGA-Journal of Death and Dying
Thompson, K. E.,
Range, L. M.
(1993). Bereavement Following Suicide and Other Deaths: Why Support Attempts Fail. OMEGA-Journal of Death and Dying, 26(1), 61-70.
Available at: http://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/6384