Michael Katz is senior lecturer (now retired) at Haifa University in Israel. Since the 1970's he holds BA degrees in mathematics, psychology and political science from Bar-Ilan University, MA degree in social psychology also from Bar-Ilan University, and MSc and DPhil degrees in mathematics from Oxford University. He held research and teaching positions, as well as visiting scholarships, at universities in Israel, Italy, England, Australia, Canada and the United States. He was head of the department of education and chairman of the MA committees of psychology and education at Haifa University.
Grief and Growth of Bereaved Siblings as related to Attachment Dimensions and Coping Strategies
Building on attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969), Emotional Security Theory (EST, Davies & Cummings, Sibling relationships have attributes shared with other interpersonal relationships, but also have unique characteristics. Siblings use each other as touchstones, in search for personal identity and understanding of the world around them. Hence sibling's death entails multiple loss - loss of a playmate, confidante, role model, and friend. Studies focusing on surviving siblings' experience exhibit feelings of isolation and confusion during the grieving period as well as in later stages in life. In spite of the enormity of the impact of this type of experience, there is little empirical literature on the effects of sibling loss. In particular, only few studies examined in the context of sibling's loss the relationships between attachment style and coping strategies or the potential of PTG - posttraumatic growth. These issues were considered in our study, conducted on 150 bereaved siblings in Israel. Two attachment related dimensions - avoidance and anxiety, together with two coping strategies – trauma-focused and forward-focused, were studied as related to grief and growth. The two attachment dimensions were found to be inversely associated with growth and positively associated with grief, whereas the two coping strategies were found to be inversely associated with grief and positively associated with growth. Interrelations were found between the two coping strategies and the two attachment dimensions and the four of them together explained close to 20% of the variance in growth and about 44% of the variance in grief. These findings, together with qualitative data from interviews and the fact that only 28% of our respondents were classified as exhibiting secure attachment style, elucidate the importance of understanding siblings' bereavement and its implications.