Managing the death of close others: Evidence of higher valuing of ingroup identity in young adults who have experienced the death of a close other

Uri Lifshin, Peter J. Helm, Jeff L Greenberg, Melissa Soenke, Dev Ashish, Daniel L Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The death of a close other (DOCO) is perhaps the most difficult experience that people endure. According to terror management theory (TMT), people manage the potentially terrorizing awareness of their mortality by immersing in cultural worldviews that allow them to feel like valuable members of a meaningful universe who may have some existence or trace after death. Although TMT has potential implications for understanding how people cope with DOCO, few studies have examined this possibility. We report results from four studies showing that, in line with TMT, students who experienced DOCO reported stronger valuing of their identification with their in-groups, which in turn was associated with higher levels of self-esteem. These findings shed new light on the social-psychological dynamics of DOCO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalSelf and Identity
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 24 2017



  • bereavement
  • Death
  • group identity
  • self-esteem
  • terror management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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