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

11 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


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