A study in the Journal of Death and Dying described the impact of feelings of connection with the deceased on their widows or widowers still on Earth. The authors did not mention the concept that the person whose body had died is alive in the next life, but the implications are the same. If a person whose spouse has died still feels attached, the impacts on their feelings of wellbeing will be even stronger than the effects shown in the study.
Numerous studies have delved into the realms of attachment theory and grief, yet there exists a noticeable dearth of research exploring the potential interplay between attachment and grief. This study sought to find the correlation between an adult who feels either still attached or feels unattached to their deceased spouse and their response to the grieving process following the spouses transition. A cohort of seventy-seven widows and widowers participated in this study, completing a questionnaire package that included the Relationship Scales Questionnaire (Griffin & Bartholomew, 1994), the Grief Experience Inventory (Sanders, Mauger, & Strong, 1985a), and the Continuing Bonds Scale (Grund, 1998). The authors sought to discern disparities between individuals with secure attachment to their spouse and those with insecure attachment, encompassing preoccupied, dismissing, and fearful types, by examining their scores on the Grief Experience Inventory and the Continuing Bonds Scale.
The study found substantial distinctions between securely and insecurely attached bereaved individuals in various facets of the Grief Experience Inventory. Specifically, those with secure attachment demonstrated lower levels of anger, reduced social isolation, diminished guilt, decreased death anxiety, fewer somatic symptoms, lower levels of despair, less depersonalization, and engaged in less rumination compared to their insecurely attached counterparts. An analysis of the Continuing Bonds subscales unearthed significant variations between secure and insecure attachments, with securely attached individuals scoring higher on Interchanges with the Deceased and Reminiscing about the Deceased compared to those with insecure attachments.
These results find that one’s feeling of continuing attachment significantly influences their response to the experience of grief. We can expect that when a spouse knows without doubt that their partner lives on, the positive effects will be even greater.
Tracey D. Waskowic and Brian M. Chartier, “Attachment and the Experience of Grief Following the Loss of a Spouse,” OMEGA–Journal of Death and Dying. Vol 47, No. 1, 2003, 77-91.