Publication details [#14713]

Capps, Lisa and George A. Bonanno. 2000. Narrating Bereavement: Thematic and Grammatical Predictors of Adjustment to Loss. Discourse Processes 30 (1) : 1–25.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Lawrence Erlbaum


Traditional bereavement theories advocate thinking and talking about painful loss-related experiences. This study examined bereavement narratives of 44 individuals as predictors of adjustment over time. Narratives were solicited 6 months postloss, in a semistructured, 6-min interview. Bereaved individuals who more often recounted negative thoughts and feelings and referred to themselves in diminished agentive roles suffered more persistent grief-related symptoms 2-year postloss, as indicated by self-report and clinician ratings. Diminished self-agency predicted outcome beyond negative content. Additionally, readers presented with transcripts of the narratives reported feeling more inclined to avoid and less inclined to comfort individuals whose narratives more frequently manifest such negativity and agentive structuring. Discussion emphasizes the importance of analyzing grammatical structuring of distressed persons' narratives to illuminate the construction of debilitating identities and world views, the potential of others' evaluations of narrative to illuminate relevant interpersonal dynamics, and possible strategies for intervention.