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Older People Who Lose Spouses From Natural Causes Recover More Quickly Than Previously Believed

Date February 22, 2011

Contrary to the popular belief that “the second year [of widowhood] is harder than the first,” the work of George Bonanno shows that “most older people who lose spouses from natural causes recover much more quickly than we have come to expect.  In fact, for many, acute grief tends to lift well within six months after the loss.  Bonanno, a clinical psychologist at Teachers College, Columbia, first published his work in 2004, and was met with disbelief and the criticism that he had omitted the worst cases from his samples.  The New York Times article concludes, “But he has since replicated the results in other data sets of bereaved individuals and gradually, his trajectories have become the standard among clinical researchers who measure how people respond to loss compared with the statistical norms.  Perhaps we will begin to update our own popular notions about grief as well.”  (The New York Times, 2/14, www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/opinion/15Konigsberg.html)

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