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Family dynamics during the grieving process: a systematic literature review

Mayra Delalibera Joana Presa Alexandra Coelho António Barbosa Maria Helena Pereira Franco About the authors

The loss of a loved one can affect family dynamics by changing the family system and creating the need for family members to reorganize. Good family functioning, which is characterized by open communication, expression of feelings and thoughts and cohesion among family members, facilitates adaptive adjustment to the loss. This study conducted a systematic review of the literature on family dynamics during the grieving process. A search was conducted in the EBSCO, Web of Knowledge and Bireme databases for scientific articles published from January 1980 to June 2013. Of the 389 articles found, only 15 met all the inclusion criteria. The selected studies provided evidence that dysfunctional families exhibit more psychopathological symptoms, more psychosocial morbidity, poorer social functioning, greater difficulty accessing community resources, lower functional capacity at work, and a more complicated grieving process. Family conflicts were also emphasized as contributing to the development of a complicated grieving process, while cohesion, expression of affection and good communication in families are believed to mitigate grief symptoms.

Family dynamics; Family functioning; Grief; Systematic review


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