At 6 months following the death of their spouse, 37 participants reported their grief-related symptoms and thoughts, and then, approximately 4.5 years later, they attempted to recall how they felt at the time of the 6-month report. Although participants were far less distressed at recall than initially, they recalled their 6-month grief rather accurately. Participants did however overestimate prior grief-related intrusive ideation. Participant’s current level of grief predicted what they recalled slightly better than the actual initial grief. Conversely, what they recalled predicted current levels of grief across various measures. Participants whose grief diminished relatively little over time tended to overestimate prior grief more. The retrospective reappraisal that one’s past grief was not severe may indicate effective coping.
Safer, M. A., Bonanno, G. A., & Field, N. P. (2001). ” It was never that bad”: Biased recall of grief and long-term adjustment to the death of a spouse. Memory, 9(3), 195-203.