Health Scan: Emotional relationship with deceased partner after remarriage

Of the 90 young widows studied, six were IDF widows.

Haifa University (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Haifa University
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Women who have been widowed at an early age and remarried continue to have an emotional relationship with their partner who died, according to a new study conducted by the international center for research on loss, bereavement and mental resilience at the University of Haifa.
This is important for the Defense Ministry and IDF to understand that grief and mourning lead to changes in the relationship with the deceased but do not end this relationship, the university researchers. The study was conducted by master’s degree in psychology student Adi Salam, who was supervised by Prof. Shimshon Rubin and Dr. Efri Bar Nadav.
Of the 90 young widows studied, six were IDF widows. More than two-thirds of the widows remarried, a fact that made it possible to compare the relationship with the deceased and the relationship with the current spouse. Salam returned to 15 of the widows – six of them IDF widows – a decade later. Eight of the women had children from the deceased and 11 of the women had children from their current partner.
The main finding was that the widows, even those who remarried, continued to have a relationship with the deceased partner – a relationship that was no less intense than the one they had with the new spouse. The researchers also found that the relationship with the deceased spouse was regarded as precious by the bereaved families and as closer, more positive and with less conflict.
The study found that according to Rubin’s hypothesis of the two-way model of loss and bereavement, as time passed it was possible to see an improvement in their adjustment, an easing of the intensity of loss and reduction in intensive preoccupation with loss over time. At the same time, the sense of closeness and positive feelings toward the deceased did not change and remained strong.
“The analysis of the mourning process indicated a significant reduction over time in traumatic shock and over-preoccupation with concrete references to the deceased, such as with similarities to people who mentioned him and his appearance,” the researchers noted.
Another important finding was that the functioning – positive or negative – at an early point of loss does not predict future functioning, that the fact that widows perform well at first does not necessarily mean that they will perform better later on. Conversely, widows who initially function poorly will not necessarily function poorly later on.
“You might have expected early-time functioning to predict future functioning, but that’s not how it turned out. Each widow coped with grief and loss in different ways and at different times,” the researchers said.
“The findings of this study show that mourning and memory are an essential part of coping with loss, and the relationship that continues to exist with the deceased is normal and helps to cope with the possibility of continuing the course of life,” the researchers concluded.
Researchers in New York have developed a personalized algorithm that predicts the impact of particular foods on an individual’s blood sugar levels. Published in PLOS Computational Biology, the algorithm has been integrated into an app named Glucoracle, which will allow individuals with type-2 diabetes to keep a tighter rein on their glucose levels and try to prevent the major complications that high levels can cause.
Medications are often prescribed to help patients with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, but exercise and diet also play an important role.
“While we know the general effect of different types of food on blood glucose, the detailed effects can vary widely from one person to another and for the same person over time,” said lead author Dr. David Albers, a biomedical informatics researcher at Columbia University Medical Center.
“Even with expert guidance, it’s difficult for people to understand the true impact of their dietary choices, particularly on a meal-to-meal basis. Our algorithm, integrated into an easy-to-use app, predicts the consequences of eating a specific meal before the food is eaten, allowing individuals to make better nutritional choices during mealtime.”
The algorithm uses a technique called data assimilation in which a mathematical model of a person’s response to glucose is regularly updated with observational data –blood sugar measurements and nutritional information – to improve the model’s predictions, explained co-study leader Dr. George Hripcsak. Data assimilation is used in a variety of applications, notably weather forecasting.
“The data assimilator is continually updated with the user’s food intake and blood glucose measurements, personalizing the model for that individual,” said co-study leader associate Prof. Lena Mamykina, whose team has designed and developed the Glucoracle app.
Glucoracle allows the user to upload fingerstick blood measurements and a photo of a particular meal to the app, along with a rough estimate of the nutritional content of the meal. This estimate provides the user with an immediate prediction of post-meal blood sugar levels. The estimate and forecast are then adjusted for accuracy. The app begins generating predictions after it has been used for a week, allowing the data assimilator to learn how the user responds to different foods.
Encouraged by these early results, the researchers are preparing for a larger clinical trial. The researchers estimate that the app could be ready for widespread use within two years.