Grief and Loss Across the Lifespan, Second Edition

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Grief and Loss Across the Lifespan, Second Edition

SKU# 9780826120281

A Biopsychosocial Perspective

Author: Judith L. M. McCoyd PhD, LCSW, QCSW, Carolyn Ambler Walter PhD, LCSW


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This unique text for undergraduate and master's-level social work and counseling courses on loss, grief, and bereavement is distinguished by its biopsychosocial perspective and developmental framework. The book addresses grieving patterns and intervention strategies according to the life trajectory and provides clinical intervention tools and strategies for coping according to the developmental stage of an individual. It incorporates losses beyond death loss, with special focus on losses related to maturational development. The second edition reflects new research that has clarified and underscored the value of theories examined in the first editionóparticularly in the areas of continued bonds, disenfranchised grief, and ambiguous grief. It describes how grieving is influenced by biological responses to stress, psychological responses to loss, and social norms and support networks.

The second edition includes significant new information on trauma and resilience and addresses the use of mindfulness practices with grief and loss. It focuses on the changing role of technology including expressions of grief and loss in social media and public forums. Updated information is provided regarding hospice and palliative care as well as housing issues in aging. A completely new chapter examines grief and loss counseling with emerging adults, and updates regarding changes in the DSM-5 are included. Additional new features include chapter objectives, discussion questions, and updated resources, and an Instructor's Manual and PowerPoint slides are available for download.

New to the Second Edition:

  • New information on trauma and resilience
  • Using mindfulness practices with grief and loss
  • Updated theory and empirical findings
  • The changing role of technology in grief
  • Expressions of grief and loss in social media and public forums
  • Transitions due to economic and health changes
  • Changes in the DSM-5
  • New chapter on emerging adults (ages 18√±25)
  • New information on hospice, palliative care, and aging
  • Housing issues in aging and disability
  • New information on issues facing young and older U.S. veterans and families
  • Updated resources
  • Chapter objectives and discussion questions
  • Instructor's Manual and PowerPoint slides

Key Features:

  • Uses a developmental framework for grief and loss
  • Incorporates notions of loss beyond death, including unique maturational losses
  • Integrates new grief theories with empirical findings and intervention techniques
  • Utilizes neurobiological and biological information within a counseling text
  • Focuses on nonpathologizing approaches to sadness, loss, and grief

Product Details 

  • Publication Date September 11, 2015
  • Page Count 368
  • Product Form Paperback / softback
  • ISBN 13 9780826120281

About The Author(s) 

Judith L. M. McCoyd, PhD, LCSW, QCSW, is an Associate Professor at Rutgers University—School of Social Work, teaching in the Advanced Clinical curriculum and working with both the PhD in Social Work and DSW doctoral programs. She worked in perinatal, emergency room, and oncology settings during her active practice life before academia and continues to maintain a small private practice with perinatal and end-of-life care as specialties. She is coauthor of Grief and Loss Across the Lifespan: A Biopsychosocial Perspective (2009) and coeditor (with Toba S. Kerson) of Social Work in Health Settings: Practice in Context (3rd ed.—2010). She presents at national and international conferences such as Council on Social Work Education, National Association of Perinatal Social Work, and the Interdisciplinary Conference of Social Sciences, and publishes in journals about perinatal decision making, technology and health care, societal aspects of bereavement, and social work education. Her research agenda involves exploration of the ways perinatal technologies impact the experience of child-bearing and bereavement when perinatal loss occurs.

Carolyn Ambler Walter, PhD, LCSW, is a Professor Emerita at the Center for Social Work Education at Widener University, Chester, PA. In addition to teaching part time at Widener, she has served as a mentor and instructor in the DSW program at University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice and maintains a private clinical social work practice. Dr. Walter is the coauthor of Grief and Loss Across the Lifespan: A Biopsychosocial Perspective (2009) and the author of The Loss of a Life Partner: Narratives of the Bereaved (2003). She is the coauthor of Breast Cancer in the Life Course: Women’s Experiences and the author of The Timing of Motherhood. Dr. Walter has published many articles in professional journals on such topics as women’s issues, grief, and social work education. Dr. Walter has also given professional presentations at state and regional hospice conferences throughout the United States, at Association for Death Education and Counseling, National Association of Social Workers, and Council on Social Work Education national conferences.

Table of Contents 




1. Introduction

Text Structure


Biopsychosocial Aspects of Grief

Biological Effects of Grief

Psychological Effects of Grief

Social Aspects of Grief

Introduction to Grief Theory

Classical Grief Theory

Task-Based Theories

Stage-Based Theories

The Transition to Postmodern Grief Theory

Dual Process Model

Meaning-Making and Grief

Continuing Bonds and Grief

Disenfranchised Grief

Ambiguous and Nonfinite (or Chronic) Grief

Issues of Intervention

Therapist Activity in Intervening With Grief

Mindfulness as an Intervention for Grief

A Final Word About Grief Work

Discussion Questions

2. Perinatal Attachment and Loss


Developmental Aspects of Pregnancy

Biological Developmental Context of Pregnancy

Psychological Aspects of Pregnancy

Social Aspects of Pregnancy

Summary of Development in the Prenatal Period

Loss as Experienced by a Fetus

Loss of a Fetus as Experienced by Significant Others

Biological Changes Associated With Intrauterine Fetal Death

Psychological Aspects of IUFD

Social Aspects of IUFD

Other Types of Perinatal Loss


Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Medically Complicated Pregnancies and Loss

Prenatal Diagnosis and Termination for Fetal Anomaly (TFA)

Delivery of a Premature or Medically Compromised Neonate



Disenfranchised Grief Following Negative Childbirth Experiences

Rumyana Kudeva

My Septuplets



Discussion Questions

3. Infancy, Toddlerhood, and Preschool


Developmental Stage: Trust Versus Mistrust and Autonomy Versus Shame

Biological Development

Psychological Development

Social Development

Losses Experienced in Infancy and Early Childhood

Death of a Caregiver

Nondeath Losses

Loss of Caregiving

Loss of a Child’s Own Health

Loss of an Individual at This Age by Parents

Death of an Infant, Toddler, or Preschooler

Loss of the Idealized Child

Typical and Maturational Losses Experienced at This Age

Birth and Gradual Loss of Complete Care

Birth of a Sibling


First Time Dads

Geoffrey L. Greif

Maternal Depression and Early Infant Development: Risks for Relational Deprivation and Loss

Janet Shapiro

A Case of Perinatal Stroke: Examining Multiple Layers of Loss

Jennifer Boiler


Discussion Questions

4. Elementary School–Aged Children


Developmental Stage: Initiative Versus Guilt and Industry Versus Inferiority

Biological Development

Psychological Development

Social Development

Loss Experienced by an Individual During the Elementary School Years

Impacts and Perceptions of Loss for Elementary School-Aged Children

Death Losses

Death of a Parent

Death of a Sibling

Death of a Pet

Nondeath Losses

Losses Due to Sexual Abuse

Typical and Maturational Losses

Loss Due to Parental Divorce

Loss and the Military

Loss of Being a Child

Intervention Issues With Elementary School Children

Loss of an Individual of Elementary School Age as Experienced by Others

Parents’ Loss of a Child

Forgotten Mourners—The Grandparents

Losses (Nondeath) Related to Child Protective Services


A Small Miracle: Perinatal HIV Transmission

Deborah Calvert

Not an American Movie

Huong Nguyen and Deborah Falk


Discussion Questions

5. Tweens and Teens


Development: Identity Development Versus Identity Diffusion

Biological Development

Psychosocial Development

Losses Experienced by the Adolescent

Death Losses

Death of a Parent

Death of a Sibling

Death of a Grandparent

Death of a Friend

Nondeath Losses

Loss of Self-Esteem/Identity

Loss of a Relationship

Loss of Health

Interventions With Tweens and Teens

Response to the Death of an Adolescent

Parents’ Loss of a Tween or Teen

Grandparents’ Grief After Adolescent’s Death

Typical and Maturational Losses

Higher Expectations for Responsibility and Independence

Aspects of Identity Change


A Girl Unlike Other Girls

Katharine Baratz Dalke

Bereavement After Losing Friends to Homicide: Two African American Teen Girls Speak

Celeste M. Johnson

Sophie’s Move to a Residential Care Facility

Bonnie Fader Wilkenfeld


Discussion Questions

6. Emerging Adults


Developmental Stage: Adult Sufficiency or Insufficiency

Biological Development

Psychological Development

Social Development

Losses Experienced by Emerging Adults

Death Losses

Death of a Parent

Death of Friends/Lovers

Nondeath Loss

Chronic and Life-Threatening Illness

Death of an Emerging Adult as Experienced by Others

Parents’ and Others’ Responses to an Emerging Adult’s Death

Typical and Maturational Losses

Loss of Economic Viability

Loss of a Love

Substance Use Disorders



Grief, Resilience, and Healing During Emerging Adulthood

Natalie Carlos Cruz

Emerging Adulthood: Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Allison Werner-Lin and Lindsey M. Hoskins

Inheriting an Unfortunate Legacy: Growing Up Fatherless by Suicide

Chris Michael


Discussion Questions

7. Young Adulthood


Developmental Crisis: Intimacy Versus Isolation

Biological Development

Psychological Development

Social Development

Losses Experienced by the Young Adult

Death Losses

Death of a Parent

Death of a Life Partner

Nondeath Losses

Parental Divorce

Loss and Problems Related to U.S. Military Service

Chronic Illness

Others’ Experience of a Young Adult’s Death

Loss of a Young Adult as Experienced by Young Adult

Parents and Siblings Experiences of a Young Adult’s Death

Typical and Maturational Losses in Early Adulthood

Loss of Young Adult’s Ability to Pursue Their Vocational/Career Aspirations

Delaying Decisions About Childbearing

Losses Connected With the Transition to Parenthood


Loss of a Child: Case of Lisa

Roseanne Muscarella

The Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Adult Development

Barbara Gillin

Connecting and Disconnecting: Losses From Leaving Street-Based Sex Work

Corey Shdaimah


Discussion Questions

8. Middle Adulthood


Developmental Crisis: Generativity Versus Stagnation

Biological Development

Psychological Development

Social Development

Loss as Experienced by Midlife Adults

Death Losses

Death of a Parent

Death of an Adult Child

Death of a Sibling in Adulthood

Death of a Cousin

Nondeath Losses

Facing a Chronic or Life-Threatening Illness or Disability

Loss/Transition of Employment


The Loss of a Midlife Adult as Experienced by Others

Death of a Life Partner

Death of a Nonmarried Partner

Typical and Maturational Losses of Midlife Adults

Loss Experienced by Parents When Children Leave Home

Loss of the Family Home

The Transformation of Identity and “Letting Go” of Past Dreams



I Lost My Cousin

Judy Catterton

Losing Jack: Accidental Death of a Spouse in Midlife


Finding the Way … Again

Clare Smith

Job Loss in Midlife



Discussion Questions

9. Retirement and Reinvention


The Transition to the Third Quarter of Life: Reinvention and Retirement

Retirement: Diverse Pathways/Models/Meanings

Losses Experienced by the Adult During Retirement and Reinvention

Loss and Transformation of Identity

Loss of Routine: Search for Balance

Loss of or Change in Work Relationships

Loss of Financial Resources

Typical and Maturational Changes/Losses

Loss of or Change in One’s Belief System: The Importance of Spiritual Growth

Changes Within the Marital/Partner Relationship

Changes in Relationships With Friends

Changes in Relationship With One’s Community

The Process of Change: Coping With the Transition Process

Loss of a Retirement/Reinvention Adult as Experienced by Others

Adult Children




William P. Miller

Reflections on Retirement—1 Year Out

Marcia Krayton Goldstein

Jean Haskell’s Story

Jean Haskell

Retirement Is Not a Dirty Word

Norma Bolden


Discussion Questions

10. Older Adults


Developmental Crisis: Integrity Versus Despair

Biological Development

Psychological Development

Developing a Point of View About Death

Social Development

Positive Aging—A Paradigm Shift

Losses Experienced by the Older Adults

Death Losses

Loss of Partner

Death of an Adult Child

Death of Friends

Resilience in the Face of Death Losses

Suicide Among Older Adults

Nondeath Losses

Coping With Chronic Life-Threatening Illness

Typical and Maturational Losses

Loss of Home/Relocation

Grandparent Caregivers


Meditation as an Intervention for Older Adults

End-of-Life Issues

Palliative and Hospice Care

Death With Dignity—Patients’ Rights at the End of Life


The Ever-Changing Landscape for Hospice Social Workers

Michelle Brooks

End of Life as a Military Veteran: Wesley’s Story

Patricia A. Findley


Discussion Questions

11. Conclusions


Accompanying the Bereaved in Their Grief

Maturational Losses as Disenfranchised Losses

Importance of the Dual Process Model of Coping With Bereavement

Importance of Continuing Bonds

Meaning-Making as a Process of Growth

Trauma and Grief

Grief Counseling Efficacy and Hidden Losses

Grief and the Clinician: Cautions

You Cannot Bypass Grief

Take Care of Yourself

Discussion Questions