Mental-health workers have long theorized that it takes grueling emotional exertion to recover from the death of a loved one. So-called grief work, now the stock-in-trade of a growing number of grief counselors, entails confronting the reality of a loved one's demise and grappling with the harsh emotions triggered by that loss.
Two new studies, however, knock grief work off its theoretical pedestal. Among bereaved spouses tracked for up to 2 years after their partners' death, those who often talked with others and briefly wrote in diaries about their emotions fared no better than their tight-lipped, unexpressive counterparts, according to psychologist Margaret Stroebe of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and her colleagues.
In most cases, "the bereaved have to cope with their loss in their own time and their own way," the researchers conclude in the February Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. "There was no evidence that talking about the loss wi