Death of a spouse is a stressful life event that carries the increased threat of illness developing as a consequence. Spousal loss is a situation that primarily affects women because women usually live longer than men and most wives are younger than their husbands. As widowhood affects more women then men, there is a need for understanding patterns of grief reactions in women. The focus of this descriptive study was to compare the differences in grief experiences of widowed women based on length of bereavement. The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in grief experiences by women who lost their spouse 6 months to 2 years and over 2 years to 4 years prior to the study. The Neuman Systems Model was used as the theoretical framework for this study. The research question for this study was as follows : Is there a difference in grief experiences by women who lose their spouse over varying periods of time. The convenience sample consisted of 2 0 individuals between the ages of 32 and 86 years. Data were collected using the Revised Grief Experience Inventory and a demographic survey. Data were iii analyzed using descriptive statistics and a two-tailed t test to compare differences between the groups. Findings from the data analysis indicated there was no significant difference in grief experiences of widowed women based on length of time since bereavement. An open-ended question was included on the demographic survey which asked participants to share anything that might help someone else who loses a spouse. The two common themes that were identified as a result of this question were spirituality and lapse of time. Conclusions drawn from the study included no difference in grieving experiences when comparing these groups of rural widows based on length of time since bereavement. Also, a majority of the widowed women expressed reliance on spirituality. Several recommendations for nursing practice, education, and research were made as a result of the study. Nursing practice recommendations included utilization of an assessment tool to determine if there are any particular areas of grieving that are especially problematic for the widow. Nursing education recommendations included incorporation of discussion and explanation of patterns of grief reactions for widowed women. Further research was IV recommended, particularly in the area of understanding patterns of grief reactions among diverse populations of widows living in various geographic locations.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Dr. Lynn Chilton

Second Advisor

Dr. Bonnie Lockard

Third Advisor

Janice Giallourakis

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons