Social support and complicated grief: a longitudinal study on bereaved parents after the Utøya terror attack in Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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On the 22nd of July 2011, Norway experienced its most extreme act of terror in recent times. The terror attacks at the Government Quarters and Utøya, claiming the lives of 77 people, left a nation in shock and numerous people grieving. Such traumatic bereavement is associated with an increased risk of chronically elevated grief symptoms, and identifying protective factors is important. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of social support on complicated grief over time among bereaved parents after the terror attack on Utøya. Our sample consisted of 86 bereaved parents (M age = 51.6 years, 52.3% women), who completed the Crisis Support Scale (CSS) and the Inventory of Complicated Grief (ICG) 18, 28, and 40 months after the loss of their child. The results showed a decrease in levels of complicated grief with time. Men had lower levels of complicated grief than women. Findings did not, however, show that parents with higher levels of social support had significantly lower levels of complicated grief compared to parents with less social support. Furthermore, our results did not suggest an accelerated recovery directly due to these factors of social support and gender. Implications and suggestions for further research are discussed.