Year: 2018 Source: European Journal of Psychotraumatology. (2017). 8: sup6: 1503522. SIEC No: 20180589

Background: Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) is over-represented among those who have lost loved ones to violent causes. To tailor PGD interventions for this vulnerable population it is critical to examine the aetiology of PGD specifically in the context of violent death bereavement. Previous studies have suggested that violent loss increases symptoms of PGD by hindering the mourner’s ability to make meaning of the death or its aftermath. However, these studies have relied on cross sectional data that preclude genuine prediction and have not differentiated among specific themes of meaning.

Objective: This study aimed to identify specific themes of meaning that mediate the detrimental impact of violent loss on subsequent emergence of PGD symptomatology among the violently bereft.

Method: A longitudinal, prospective design (N = 171) was used to assess violent loss and themes of meaning an average of six months post-loss allowing for prediction of PGD symptoms an average of eight months later.

Results: Violent loss had a significant indirect effect on PGD symptomatology when meaning themes focusing on sense of peace and continuing bonds served as mediators.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the mediating role that specific meaning themes play in the development of PGD symptomatology following violent loss. These findings highlight the potential benefits of applying a meaning-based intervention approach with the violently bereft.