Qianyun Wang is an MSW student, with a specialization in International Community Development, University of Calgary. She has passion for working for social justice and community development issues and has practicum experience working with racialized immigrant communities. Her research interests center on aging population, community development and gender issues.
Exploring Spousal Bereavement Adjustment among Older Chinese Immigrants
Spousal bereavement becomes increasingly common among older-aged individuals, and it poses considerable challenges to adults in late life. Some populations, such as older immigrants, may experience heightened negative outcomes as a consequence of spousal bereavement, due to migratory stress and marginalization. Spousal bereavement is also a culturally embedded experience. That is, it is related to cultural beliefs and attitudes concerning death and family relationships. However, studies on experiences of spousal bereavement or widowhood for older immigrant groups are limited. Chinese immigrants are the second largest visible minority population in Canada. They, like mainstream Canadian populations, are aging. A systematic review of the literature showed that the experience of bereavement among Chinese older adults is sparse. This study aims to fill this literature gap by exploring, via a phenomenological approach, the lived experiences of widowed older Chinese immigrants. This study sought to answer the following three research questions: 1) What are the lived experiences of older Chinese immigrants coping with spousal bereavement? 2) Which types of community supports are accessed be older Chinese immigrants to cope with their widowhood? 3) What personal supports do older Chinese immigrants use to cope with their widowhood? We used in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 15 Cantonese and Mandarin older (aged 65 and older), Chinese immigrants recruited from faith communities, ethno-cultural community, and service-providing organizations. In addition, five specific domains of the World Health Organization (2007) Age-Friendly community framework was used to determine effective supports for older Chinese immigrants experiencing spousal bereavement: 1) housing, and using of transportation and built environment; 2) social networks; 3) social participation; 4) access to information and services; and 5) community supports. This presentation shares the preliminary study findings. Findings from the study will be used to develop interventions to inform the development of culturally and gender-focused sensitive grief and adjustment practice for this population as well as to develop recommendations for policy-making for this population.