Grief’s Five Paths

Some time ago I hosted Dr. Ken Doka when he presented a seminar in Edmonton, Alberta. It was put on by the Alberta Funeral Service Association. I had the privilege of being the president of the Dealing with Grief Group for Northern Alberta.

Ken Doka’s presentation was excellent but one moment sticks out for me. He mentioned a study as a part of the presentation that was called the CLOC study. This stood for “The Changing Lives of Older Citizens”. It was the first and only study of its kind that addressed what happened to the surviving couple after the death of their spouse. It was a prospective study of marital satisfaction, values, health, psychological health, social support, psychiatric symptomatology, coping strategies and other concerns of older citizens when they lose a partner.

So why did this attract my attention? I think that it is now, more than ever a, very timely study with a larger percentage of our population entering over 50 years. It is the first of its kind and reveals some astounding facts about how grief and loss affect the older citizen. It was surprising in that it noted that a significant portion of the population that experiences a loss may not have been studied before. Learnings from the study extend beyond the 5 Paths to other areas such as our lack of preparation for this aging population boom, the effect that religion or spiritual beliefs and the fact that if we help others in their addressing grief, these activities help us to address our coping with our grief faster.

The Changing Lives of Older Citizens

Principal Investigator(s): 
Randolph M. Nesse, University of Michigan;
Camille Wortman, State University of New York-Stony Brook;
James S. House, University of Michigan;
Ron Kessler, Harvard University;
James Lepkowski, University of Michigan