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The Role of Threatening Misinterpretations and Avoidance in Emotional Problems After Loss

  • Paul A. Boelen (a1) and Marcel A. van den Hout (a1)


There is uncertainty about the role of avoidance behaviours in recovery from loss. Some authors have noted that avoidance exacerbates grief, whereas others have claimed that avoidance, at some times during the grieving process, can foster recovery. In the current study, it was hypothesized that avoidance behaviours are particularly detrimental when mourners have threatening misinterpretations about the consequences of confronting the loss, but less detrimental when mourners do not have such misinterpretations. To test this hypothesis, 400 mourners completed questionnaires tapping threatening misinterpretations, avoidance, and complicated grief (CG) and depression. In support of the prediction, situational avoidance, ruminative avoidance, and efforts to maintain ties with the deceased were only linked with depression in those who strongly endorsed misinterpretations. In addition, misinterpretations magnified the associations of ruminative avoidance and efforts to continue ties, with CG. Findings suggest that avoidance interacts with threatening misinterpretations in affecting particular emotional problems after loss.


Corresponding author

Reprint requests to Paul A. Boelen, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands. E-mail:


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The Role of Threatening Misinterpretations and Avoidance in Emotional Problems After Loss

  • Paul A. Boelen (a1) and Marcel A. van den Hout (a1)


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The Role of Threatening Misinterpretations and Avoidance in Emotional Problems After Loss

  • Paul A. Boelen (a1) and Marcel A. van den Hout (a1)
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