Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology


Hope is essential to effectively face the trials of life. One of life's most stressful trials is coping with the death of a loved one. Understanding coping differences may promote counseling interventions to benefit individuals who feel hopeless. The Beck Hopelessness Scale (Beck, 1974) and the Ways Of Coping Questionnaire-Revised (WOCQ-R) (Folkman & Lazarus, 1988), were used in a survey of 97 bereaved spouses of hospice patients to answer four questions: (a) Does a relationship exist between coping behaviors and levels of hopelessness? (b) Is there a relationship between resurrection beliefs and hopelessness? (c) Are differences in resurrection beliefs related to differences in coping behaviors? and (d) Are differences in spontaneously reported coping behaviors, spiritual or non-spiritual, related to differences in hopelessness? Using the eight factors associated with the WOCQ-R and Spiritual Coping responses, a Pearson correlation revealed "Positive Reappraisal" had the strongest relationship with hopelessness (~ = -.278 Q < .01), followed by "Planful Problem Solving" (.r. = - . 274 Q < • 05). A discriminant analysis revealed that individuals who strongly believe in the resurrection used different coping behaviors than individuals who did not hold such beliefs. Coping behaviors associated with Resurrection Belief were: Seeking Social Support, Accepting Responsibility, Spiritual Coping, and less uses of Escape-Avoidance. No significant difference was found in hopelessness scores among individuals who strongly believe in the resurrection and those who did not. Neither was there a significant difference in hopelessness scores among participants who spontaneously reported using Spiritual Coping compared with those who spontaneously reported Non-Spiritual Coping. These non-significant findings may have occurred because of lack of participants who were hopeless and few participants who expressed disbelief in the resurrection. Furthermore Spiritual Coping may have been underestimated since seeking Social Support, keeping busy, etc. may involve spiritual activities yet were not coded as spiritual. Counseling implications to reduce hopelessness include reappraisal of stressors in light of personal growth and the encouragement of Planful Problem Solving. Recommendations for future research included exploration of coping behaviors and after-life beliefs among individuals experiencing higher levels of hopelessness, and investigating longitudinal changes in the coping process.

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