Tot de dood ons scheidt? De relatie tussen hechting aan de overleden partner, laatste rustplaatsbezoek en ervaren emoties bij ouderen.
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Objective: Aim of this study was to explore the possibility that romantic attachment after the death of a partner continues as a form of symbolic attachment in older adults. Symbolic attachment was measured by means of the former attachment to the deceased spouse, the frequency of visiting the last resting place and the emotions experienced at the last resting place. Additionally the motives for visiting the last resting place were investigated. Method: The research group of 40 Dutch participants age 65 and older, who lost their life time partner and who were able to visit the last resting place completed the Dutch translation of the Experiences in Close Relationships Questionnaire revised (ECR-R) and the Dutch Depression Adjective Checklist (VROPSOM). To explore the motives for visiting the last resting place a new questionnaire was developed. This ‘Motieven voor het Bezoeken van de Laatste Rustplaats’ (MBLR) questionnaire was also filled out by the participants. Results: Results for visiting the last resting place showed that there was a marginally significant positive relationship with anxious attachment, anxious-avoidant attachment was marginally negatively related to visiting the last resting place and there was no relationship between avoidant attachment and visiting. Opposite to what was expected, this study did not show a relationship between attachment to the deceased partner and emotions experienced while visiting the last resting place. The most frequently reported motives for visiting the last resting place were maintaining the emotional bond and inspecting the site. Conclusion: There seems to be some relationship between attachment style to the deceased partner and frequency of visiting the last resting place. No evidence has been found that attachment to the deceased partner influences the emotions one experiences while visiting the last resting place. Further research is needed to explore if romantic attachment after the death of a partner actually continues as a form of symbolic attachment in older adults.