A recent model of bereavement coping - DPM
As I started researching being helpful in loss in mid-2022, learned about a new-to-me model of bereavement coping called the DPM, Dual Process Model. It was first published by two researchers in the Netherlands in 1999 and has since been expanded and tested to see if it’s helpful in explaining what is going on as we are grieving a death.
The DPM suggests that there are two clusters of bereavement stressors: loss-oriented and restoration-oriented. Loss-oriented stressors cluster around the loss we experience. “This leaves a hole in my heart.” “This is the other half of me.” “I’ll never have those conversations again.” “They aren’t here.”
Restoration-oriented stressors cluster around the practical steps of living we have to figure out. “How am I going to pay the bills.” “What do I say when people ask where he is?” “What do I call myself now? “Do I move?” “How can I grieve my daughter when I now am caring for my granddaughter?”
But these stressor and responses don’t come in a list or in any order. In fact, in my conversations with families, I can hear these comments almost simultaneously.
What the model suggests is something called “oscillation.” We bounce back and forth as we feel these kinds of stressors and try to figure out how to respond to them. At times, the bouncing is a coping, and can be, for the moment, a helpful avoidance. “I can’t think about that, I need to take care of this.”
There is also the idea of overload, the feeling that “this is all too much.”
I appreciate that this isn’t a stage model or a wave model. Instead, it acknowledges what we are dealing with in two broad categories and describes some of the process that we go through. And I believe (and will write more about) that there are ways that we can help other people and ourselves as we are in this processing.
(Even as simple as saying, “It makes sense that you are bouncing back and forth. That’s what people do.” Or “the funeral home will help you with the death certificate.” Or “This is hard.”)
Links to the DPM research that already exists
The dual process model of coping with bereavement: rationale and description – PubMed (nih.gov)
(PDF) The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement: A Decade on (researchgate.net)
A Systematic Review of the Dual Process Model of Coping With Bereavement (1999-2016) – PubMed (nih.gov)
(PDF) The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement in the test of the subjective experiences of bereaved spouses. An interpretative phenomenological analysis (researchgate.net)
Bereavement in Times of COVID-19: A Review and Theoretical Framework – Margaret Stroebe, Henk Schut, 2021 (sagepub.com)