A Controlled Trial of Two Mind–Body Interventions for Grief in Widows and Widowers

Lindsey M. Knowles, Krystal S. Jovel, Candace M. Mayer, Kenneth C. Bottrill, Alfred W Kaszniak, David A. Sbarra, Erika E. Lawrence, Mary Frances O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Following bereavement, yearning and grief rumination are repetitive cognitive processes that can lead to disordered grief. Mindfulness training (MT) has been shown to reduce maladaptive repetitive thought. The current quasi-randomized controlled trial examined the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of MT for bereavement-related grief. Method: Ninety-five widow(er)s (Mage = 67.5, 79% women, 98% White) between 6 months to 4 years post-loss were assigned to a 6-week MT intervention or a progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) intervention, or a wait-list condition. Outcome measures were grief severity (Revised Inventory of Complicated Grief), yearning (Yearning in Situations of Loss), rumination (Utrecht Grief Rumination Scale), and decentering (Experiences Questionnaire-Decentering) assessed at baseline, Weeks 2 and 4 of intervention, post-intervention, and 1-month post-intervention. Growth curve analysis examined group differences in rates of improvement in outcomes through follow-up and associations with improvement in grief severity. Results: The MT and PMR groups showed significant rates of decline in grief severity and yearning, though only the PMR group showed a greater rate of decline in grief severity than wait-list. All groups showed significant rates of decline in grief rumination. The PMR and wait-list groups showed significant rates of increase in decentering compared to the MT group. Conclusions: Results support the feasibility and acceptability of MT and PMR for widow(er)s as well as the preliminary efficacy of PMR for improving grief severity in widow(er)s compared to a wait-list control condition. With replication, PMR could be a standalone intervention for non-disordered grief or a component of treatment for disordered grief.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-654
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021


  • Bereavement
  • Grief
  • Mindfulness
  • Relaxation
  • Widow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'A Controlled Trial of Two Mind–Body Interventions for Grief in Widows and Widowers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this