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"Cycling around an emotional core of sadness": emotion regulation in a couple after the loss of a child

Journal title
Qualitative health research
Publication year
Hooghe, A.; Neimeyer, R. A.; Rober, P.

In contrast to the traditional view of working through grief by confronting it, recent theories have emphasized an oscillating process of confronting and avoiding the pain of loss. In this qualitative study, we sought a better understanding of this process by conducting a detailed case study of a bereaved couple after the loss of their infant daughter. We employed multiple data collection methods (using interviews and written feedback) and an intensive auditing process in our thematic analysis, with special attention to a recurrent metaphor used by this bereaved couple in describing their personal and relational experience. The findings suggest the presence of a dialectic tension between the need to be close to the deceased child and the need for distance from the pain of the loss, which was evidenced on both individual and relational levels. For this couple, the image of "cycling around an emotional core of sadness" captured their dynamic way of dealing with this dialectic of closeness and distance.

Research abstracts