Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

Spirituality and religious coping are related to cancer-bereaved siblings’ long-term grief

Journal title
Palliative & supportive care
Publication year
Lovgren, M.; Sveen, J.; Steineck, G.; Wallin, A. E.; Eilertsen, M. B.; Kreicbergs, U.

OBJECTIVE: Many bereaved siblings have still not come to terms with their grief many years after the loss, but few studies have focused on what can help. The aims of this study were to identify cancer-bereaved adolescents’ and young adults’ ways of coping with grief after loss of a sibling, and examine whether these ways of coping were related to their experience of having worked through their grief. METHOD: This nationwide survey of 174 cancer-bereaved siblings (73% participation rate) is based on one open-ended question about coping with grief ("What has helped you to cope with your grief after your sibling’s death?") and one closed-ended question about siblings’ long-term grief ("Do you think you have worked through your grief over your sibling’s death?"). The open-ended question was analyzed with content analysis; descriptive statistics and Fisher’s exact test were used to examine the relation between type of coping and siblings’ long-term grief. Result The siblings described four ways of coping: (1) thinking of their dead brother/sister and feeling and expressing their grief; (2) distracting or occupying themselves; (3) engaging in spiritual and religious beliefs/activities; and (4) waiting for time to pass. One of these categories of coping with grief, namely, engaging in spiritual and religious beliefs and activities, was associated with siblings’ experience of having worked through their grief two to nine years after the loss (p = 0.016). Significance of results Those siblings who had used spirituality, religious beliefs, and activities to cope were more likely to have worked through their grief than those who had not.

Research abstracts