Self-compassion, grief rumination, and psychopathology among relatives of missing persons: A mediation analysis

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Abstract

Abstract
Introduction
Experiencing the disappearance of a loved one is a unique type of loss that may heighten the risk of developing prolonged grief (PG), depression, and posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms. Little is known about protective and risk factors for psychopathology among relatives of missing persons. A potential protective factor is self-compassion. Being more self-compassionate might block ruminative thinking (about the causes and consequences of the disappearance) and, thereby, prevent the maintenance and exacerbation of emotional distress. We aimed to test 1) if greater self-compassion is related to less PG, depression, and PTS levels in relatives of missing persons and 2) to what extent these associations are mediated by grief rumination.
Methods
Dutch and Belgium relatives of long-term missing persons (n = 137) completed self-report measures of self-compassion, grief rumination, PG, depression, and PTS. Mediation analyses were conducted.
Results
Higher self-compassion levels were indirectly related to lower levels of PG (a*b = -0.11), depression (a*b = -0.07), and PTS (a*b = -0.11). Associations were mediated by grief rumination. Specifically, 50%, 32%, and 32% of the effect of self-compassion on PG, depression, and PTS levels respectively, was accounted for by grief rumination.
Discussion/Conclusions
Findings suggest that people who have stronger tendencies to approach their emotional pain in an open and understanding way (i.e., elevated self-compassion) are less likely to get entangled in maladaptive thought processes related to the disappearance, and, partially because of this, experience less severe psychopathology. Strengthening a self-compassionate attitude in treatment, for instance with mindfulness-based interventions, therefore seems recommendable.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13-Jul-2017
Event11th International Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 12-Jul-201715-Jul-2017
Conference number: 11

Conference

Conference11th International Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society
Abbreviated titleICGB 2017
Country/TerritoryPortugal
CityLisbon
Period12/07/201715/07/2017

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