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Religion as a Meaning-Making Framework in Coping with Life Stress


  • Thanks to Ken Pargament, J. Conrad Schwartz, Israela Silberman, and four anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this article.

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Crystal L. Park, Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, 406 Babbidge Road, Box U-1020, Storrs, CT 06269, [e-mail:].


This article explores how religion, as a meaning system, influences coping with adversity. First, a model emphasizing the role of meaning making in coping is presented. Next, religion as a meaning system is defined, and theory and research on the role of religion in the coping process are summarized. Results from the author's study of 169 bereaved college students are then presented to illustrate some of the pathways through which religious meaning can influence the coping process in making meaning following loss. Findings indicate that associations between religion and adjustment vary across time since loss, and that these associations are mediated by meaning-making coping. Finally, implications for individual and societal well-being and suggestions for future research are discussed.