Understanding the dynamic of non-death losses following spinal-cord injury

Isabella Channell, BS

VA Boston Healthcare System – Psychology Practicum Student
Channell_Isabella poster

Scientific Abstract

Background: Spinal-cord injury (SCI) serves as a consistent reminder of loss, especially as individuals with SCI learn to navigate their environment, health, and life milestones differently than before (Burkhart, et al., 2021). Consequently, this means that persons living with SCI face living losses, which are both enduring in nature and require constant adaptation and adjustment (Harris & Winokuer, 2019). Stroebe and Schut’s (1999) dual process model of coping with bereavement may be the best fit model to facilitate grief processing and coping for persons with SCI, as this model endorses the oscillation process of grief allowing the griever to balance confrontation and avoidance of the losses to optimally adjust to their new assumptive world over time. In order best utilize this model, clinicians should consider using Kalpakjian et al.’s (2015) SCI-QOL measure to assess living losses and chronic sorrow from depression among those living with SCI.

Methods: Review of the death and dying literature related to the topic of grief and loss. Terms such as “grief,” “non-death loss,” and “spinal-cord injury,” were used in the search. Research regarding these topics within the SCI population was limited but applied in this poster.

Results: Based on the search terms using multiple search databases, 6 articles were deemed relevant. These articles were used to gain a better understanding of identifying the ever-present losses following SCI.

Conclusion: Understanding the different types of non-death losses and dynamic coping process experienced by those affected by SCI can play a major role in treatment, that endures long after initial injury (Clifton, 2014). Acknowledging these various losses and the individual’s oscillation process is crucial in order to avoid disenfranchising grief and facilitate healthy coping and acceptance of the individual’s new assumptive world.

research Areas


Isabella Channell, BS, Selmi Kallmi, MA, & Maggi A. Budd, PhD, MPH, ABPP

Principal Investigator

Maggi A. Budd, PhD, MPH, ABPP