Religion's role in adjustment to a negative life event: coping with the loss of a child

D N McIntosh, R C Silver, C B Wortman
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1993, 65 (4): 812-21
Parents (N = 124) who had lost an infant to sudden infant death syndrome were interviewed 3 weeks and 18 months postloss. Two components of religion (religious participation and religious importance) were assessed, and their relations with 3 coping-process variables (perceived social support, cognitive processing of the loss, and finding meaning in the death) were examined. Greater religious participation was related to increased perception of social support and greater meaning found in the loss. Importance of religion was positively related to cognitive processing and finding meaning in the death. Furthermore, through these coping-process variables, religious participation and importance were indirectly related to greater well-being and less distress among parents 18 months after their infants' deaths. Results suggest that further study of the social and cognitive aspects of religion would be profitable.

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