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      The Endless Grief in Waiting: A Qualitative Study of the Relationship between Ambiguous Loss and Anticipatory Mourning amongst the Relatives of Missing Persons in Italy

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          Abstract

          This article presents the results of a qualitative study aiming to consider the relationship between ambiguous loss and anticipatory mourning amongst relatives of missing people in Italy. Eight people participated in the research, narrating their experiences of losing a beloved person (one found alive, three found dead, and four still missing). Findings suggest the presence of a particular form of ambiguous loss, characterised by traits typical of both prolonged and traumatic grief. These findings describe how families are faced with an emotional vortex related to a never-ending wait, and how the mourning is solved only when the missing person is found dead or alive. The discovery of a corpse is traumatic but it allows mourners to fully recognise their grief. When a person is found, it changes the relationship in a positive way. When neither of these events happen, mourners have two different kinds of reactions: they experience either a prolonged grief or a drive to solve their suffering by helping other people (post-traumatic growth). In this study, it is highlighted how a community can be useful or detrimental in this process, and the importance of psychological and social support to prevent significant clinical outcomes is stressed.

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          Most cited references 34

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          SYMPTOMATOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT OF ACUTE GRIEF

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            Searching for the meaning of meaning: grief therapy and the process of reconstruction.

             R Neimeyer (2000)
            A comprehensive quantitative review of published randomized controlled outcome studies of grief counseling and therapy suggests that such interventions are typically ineffective, and perhaps even deleterious, at least for persons experiencing a normal bereavement. On the other hand, there is some evidence that grief therapy is more beneficial and safer for those who have been traumatically bereaved. Beginning with this sobering appraisal, this article considers the findings of C.G. Davis, C.B. Wortman, D.R. Lehman, and R.C. Silver (this issue) and their implications for a meaning reconstruction approach to grief therapy, arguing that an expanded conception of meaning is necessary to provide a stronger basis for clinical intervention.
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              The varieties of grief experience.

              The bereavement literature has yet to show consensus on a clear definition of normal and abnormal or complicated grief reactions. According to DSM-IV, bereavement is a stressor event that warrants a clinical diagnosis only in extreme cases when other DSM categories of psychopathology (e.g., Major Depression) are evident. In contrast, bereavement theorists have proposed a number of different types of abnormal grief reactions, including those in which grief is masked or delayed. In this article, we review empirical evidence on the longitudinal course, phenomenological features, and possible diagnostic relevance of grief reactions. This evidence was generally consistent with the DSM-IV's view of bereavement and provided little support for more complicated taxonomies. Most bereaved individuals showed moderate disruptions in functioning during the first year after a loss, while more chronic symptoms were evidenced by a relatively small minority. Further, those individuals showing chronic grief reactions can be relatively easily accommodated by existing diagnostic categories. Finally, we found no evidence to support the proposed delayed grief category. We close by suggesting directions for subsequent research.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Behav Sci (Basel)
                Behav Sci (Basel)
                behavsci
                Behavioral Sciences
                MDPI
                2076-328X
                06 July 2020
                July 2020
                : 10
                : 7
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy and Applied Psychology, University of Padova, 35131 Padova, Italy; ines.testoni@ 123456unipd.it (I.T.); chiara.franco25@ 123456gmail.com (C.F.); lorenza.palazzo92@ 123456gmail.com (L.P.); erika.iacona@ 123456unipd.it (E.I.); adriano.zamperini@ 123456unipd.it (A.Z.)
                [2 ]Arts Therapies Research Center, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
                [3 ]Institute of Psychology, University of Klagenfurt, 9020 Klagenfurt am Wörthersee, Austria
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: Michael.Wieser@ 123456aau.at ; Tel.: +43-463-2700-1636
                Article
                behavsci-10-00110
                10.3390/bs10070110
                7408511
                32640528
                © 2020 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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