Impact of Resilience and Social Support on Long-term Grief

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While many people cope with their grief associated with the loss of a loved one within 6-24 months after the loss, the bereavement process has been associated with developing emotional/behavioral problems, educational problems, and stress‐related medical conditions in bereaved siblings of children with cancer.

While previous research has suggested that low social support is associated with unresolved grief, the role of social support and when it is most needed is unclear.  Additionally, resilience has been shown to be associated with resolved grief, but it is unknown which resilience factors are primarily associated with resolved grief in cancer-bereaved siblings.

Rasouli and colleagues (2022) sought to understand how resilience and perceived social support influenced the grief of bereaved young adults 2–10 years after losing a brother or sister to cancer.

Thirty-six Norwegian young adults (aged 18–26 years) who had lost a brother or sister to cancer between the years 2009 and 2014 participated in this study. Participants completed a questionnaire that measured resilience (Resilience Scale for Adolescents), grief (“To what extent do you think you have worked through your grief over your sibling’s death?”) and perceived social support at three time points: (1) during sibling’s illness period, (2) after the sibling’s death, and (3) during the past year.

Half (47.2%) of bereaved siblings had not worked through their grief at the time of the study.

With respect to resilience, bereaved siblings with higher Personal Competence (attributed to levels of self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-efficacy, determination, hope, realistic life orientation, and the ability to follow daily routines as planned) reported lower unresolved grief.

Perceived social support after a sibling’s death was a significant factor for grief, indicating that those satisfied with social support in the time frame immediately after death had coped better with their grief.

The findings of this study highlight the importance of bereavement programs for bereaved siblings and suggest promoting resilience as an intervention.  The importance of following daily routines and planning for their future was also highlighted.  Further, the results supported the need for social family-based (including school-based) and health care-based social support (professional and peer support) for the bereaved individual after the sibling’s death.

Rasouli, O., Moksnes, U. K., Reinfjell, T., Hjemdal, O., & Eilertsen, M. E. B. (2022). Impact of resilience and social support on long-term grief in cancer-bereaved siblings: an exploratory study. BMC Palliative Care21(1), 1-8.  Available from: