Reading in times of loss
An exploration of the functions of literature during grief
This study examined the use of literature as a coping strategy among people who had experienced loss, comparing it to the use of music. Theory suggested that these artistic media can facilitate insight, recognition, support, relaxation, new emotions, and/or distraction. Among 198 respondents, 64 (32%) reported using neither medium during their grief period, 65 (33%) used only music, 19 (10%) used only literature, and 50 (25%) used both. Using artistic media was related to an emotional experience of the loss in two ways: 1) preference for emotion-focused coping was greater among those who used artistic media, 2) those who had used artistic media also reported greater impact of the loss. Reading was most strongly associated with distraction and listening to music with recognition. For those using both media, this suggests a coping process that alternates between distraction and recognition, in line with the Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement.
Keywords: literature, music, reading, coping, grief, loss, distraction
Published online: 22 September 2014
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Joubin, Alexa Alice
Koopman, Eva Maria (Emy)
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