How Meanings Aid Coping among Bereaved Spouses of Eastern Visayas, Philippines


by: Ruth Edisel Rylle B. Sadian-Cercado


Losing a spouse is a stressful life event that results in grief and initiates coping through an active search for meaning. This study used semi-structured interviews to collect personal stories of spousal loss and meaning-making coping among 12 bereaved adults whose spouses died within the past six to 48 months. Using Braun & Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis, I analyzed the meanings assigned by the bereaved spouses to their experienced loss. Two major themes emerged: 1) navigating the loss of a spouse and 2) finding the silver lining. Findings showed that many of the bereaved spouses experienced grappling and questioning the loss, then oscillated through prior and situational meanings before coming to an understanding of the loss. They successfully integrated the meaning of loss with their pre-existing worldviews (i.e., loss as a social process, availability of signs and premonitions, inevitability of death, death as God’s will) and externally attributed the loss to find favorable meanings. These meanings derived from the experienced loss mediated the adverse bereavement outcomes. The role of meaning-making coping and practical implications for psychological support to bereaved spouses are also discussed.

Keywords: meaning-making, coping, grief, bereavement, loss of a spouse