Ruminative coping as avoidance

A reinterpretation of its function in adjustment to bereavement
  • Margaret Stroebe
  • Paul A. Boelen
  • Marcel van den Hout
  • Wolfgang Stroebe
  • Elske Salemink
  • Jan van den Bout


The paper argues for a reconceptualization of ruminative coping with the death of a loved one as an avoidant rather than a confrontational strategy. Ruminative coping has been characterized within the bereavement field as persistent, repetitive and passive focus on negative emotions and symptoms. It has been theoretically described and empirically shown to be a maladaptive process, being conceptually related to complicated/chronic/prolonged grief. Furthermore, it has been contrasted with denial and suppression processes—which, too, have been understood to be maladaptive and associated with major complications following bereavement. Here evidence is reviewed and the case made that rumination is not an opposite form of coping from suppression or denial, but that it is a similar phenomenon to these, and different from the types of confrontation that take place in so-called “grief work”. Implications with respect to intervention for complicated grief are discussed.

Key words

rumination worry bereavement complicated grief grief work coping 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret Stroebe
    • 1
  • Paul A. Boelen
    • 1
  • Marcel van den Hout
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Stroebe
    • 1
  • Elske Salemink
    • 1
  • Jan van den Bout
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Institute for Psychology and Health, Faculty of Social SciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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