Aged spousal adaptation to loss: A theoretical approach

Michelle Goldberg (2001)

This theoretical dissertation intends to clarify the processes involved in adaptation to the loss of an aged spouse. The complex issue of aged bereavement and adaptation to loss is elucidated through three major perspectives in psychology, as well as developed through a metaperspective. The metaperspective addresses therapeutic work with aged bereaved spouses through the theoretical framework of general system theory, by applying a multidimensional lens termed the "spheres of experience." Historically, bereavement has been conceptualized through two major perspectives: psychoanalytic and attachment. More recently, a third perspective on coping has been developed and applied. The development of this third perspective initiated a burgeoning in the field that included multidimensioned investigations of bereavement frameworks. These three central perspectives are presented in this text in order to introduce the reader to the complexity involved in the conceptualization of aged adaptation to loss. The metaperspective that is presented is derived through the organic sciences, and provides a strong kinship and application to psychology. Utilizing general system theory, a multidimensional perspective of aged adaptation to bereavement (as gleaned through the literature review and considered through the spheres of experience) is integrated to provide a therapeutic framework of general system theory within the field of aged bereavement. It is anticipated that this metaperspective lends itself toward clarification of aged adaptation to spousal loss, and may therefore be of benefit to both researchers and trainees.