Relationships between Bereavement Support Strategies and Empathy Dimensions
Keywords:bereavement support strategies, empathy dimensions, person-centered messages, avoidance coping
Helpful and unhelpful bereavement support strategies have been identified in many studies. However, few studies have researched the reasons for choosing different ways of supporting the bereaved. Taking this into account, the current study aimed to analyze the relationships between empathy dimensions (Empathy with negative emotions, Empathy with positive emotions, Empathy as a social role, and Emotional reactions provoked by empathy) and bereavement support strategies (Social support/offering practical help, Minimizing feelings, Providing a religious perspective, and Complimenting the deceased and/or bereaved). The Bereaved Support Questionnaire and the Empathy Assessment Questionnaire were administered online to a sample of 271 participants (68.3% female). Descriptive statistics revealed the tendency of respondents to achieve higher than average scores on all empathy dimensions, except on Empathy with negative emotions. This finding points to a difficulty in consoling the bereaved, as they are mostly faced with unpleasant feelings. The respondents showed a slight preference to choose supportive messages that are high in person-centeredness, over those belonging to the Minimizing feelings and Providing a religious perspective subscale. Pearson’s correlation and network analysis indicated that empathy is positively associated with the use of high person-centered approach to support (Social support/offering practical help and Complimenting the deceased and/or bereaved). However, results have also shown that the inclination to use these types of messages is to some extent accompanied with a tendency to minimize the feelings of the bereaved. The article discusses possible interpretations of these findings, as well as guidelines for implementing the findings in bereavement support.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Isidora Rajić, Ana Genc, Sanja Batić-Očovaj
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