Daily Uplifts & Grief Study: A Discussion with Dr. Shevaun Neupert

interviews Feb 25, 2024

At Grieve Leave, we're passionate about shedding light on the latest research in grief and grieving. As we gather more research, we gain a valuable understanding of the realities of grief, allowing us to provide more meaningful assistance to those who need it.

This week, Grieve Leave founder, Rebecca Feinglos, sat down with Dr. Shevaun Neupert, an expert on aging and grief psychology at North Carolina State University. Her research examines emotional coping after traumatic losses.

Rebecca and Dr. Neupert discussed whether “daily uplifts” could ease negative moods for older grieving adults. What are “daily uplifts” and how do they help when adapting to loss? Read on!

Let’s start with some important definitions you need to know:

What are daily uplifts? Uplifts are minor positive events that bring temporary joy — like connecting with someone, enjoying a hobby, feeling healthy, or getting enough sleep.
What is subjective age? It's how old you feel, which may differ from actual age. Subjective age often increases with grief.

The Study:

 The study tracked 440 grieving adults aged 50-85 in the United States over 14 consecutive days. Each day, participants self-reported their mood, stressors, health behaviors, and “daily uplifts.”

The researchers also assessed subjective age daily.

Tracking variables daily allowed Dr. Neupert’s team to examine how context shapes grief’s fluctuating nature — an important advance reflecting grief's fluidity.

Dr. Neupert explained, "We ask these 440 participants...to do this study for 14 days because we acknowledge that not all days are the same. Some days you have good days, some days you have bad days and certainly with grief, we know that can come in waves. We wanted to acknowledge that there's a lot of movement and how people are experiencing this process.”

The Findings:


The results clearly demonstrated uplifts eased grief's emotional burden. On days with more frequent uplifts, grieving adults had less negative mood overall.

But surprisingly, uplifts relieved negative moods most substantially on days when subjective age felt elevated — when losses felt amplified.


As Dr. Neupert explained further:

"The idea of uplifts are kind of the opposite of stressful events. They're intended to be positive. They're intended to be enjoyed and they're intended to be tangible. So there are things like having a great phone conversation with a friend or spending time with a friend or family member in person."

The uplifts allow grieving people to "insert joy into [their]daily life." And they can take many forms, both simple and complex. But universally, they counterbalanced the weight of grief.

How can you apply this to your grief journey?

1. Lean on your support network

"It could be as simple as a phone call. It could be getting together in person with a supportive friend or family member, going out to dinner, taking a walk..."

If you crave connection during grief, uplifts with loved ones can help - a call, walk, meal out.


2. Cultivate daily moments of peace and joy

Creating pleasant spaces can provide small comforts. "...finding a way to make sure the inside of your home is pleasing, whatever that might mean for you...lighting a candle..."

Tend your environment and spirit.


3. Accomplish meaningful tasks

"Something that maybe has just kind of lingering for a while. What if I try to complete it today or tomorrow? That can be really satisfying..."

Checking off that lingering to-do provides uplift.

How to apply this to support someone else in their grief:

1. Offer support through action

When supporting a grieving loved one, be there to listen and provide company through uplifting joint activities. Even small gestures like a call or invitation show you care.


2. Assist with practical tasks:

Offer tangible support by assisting with household projects or tasks that may feel overwhelming for your loved one. Whether it's painting a room, organizing spaces, or completing chores, your help can alleviate some of the burdens they may be facing.


3. Provide uplifting gifts:

Consider giving thoughtful gifts that can become an uplift and bring comfort during difficult times. A scented candle, for example, can create a soothing atmosphere and serve as a tangible reminder of your support.

We're committed to amplifying research and fostering connections within the grief community.

If you're a researcher interested in collaborating with us or sharing your work, we'd love to hear from you. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected].

If you're interested in learning more about Dr. Neupert's research and expertise in aging and grief psychology, you can visit her lab website or reach out to her via email at [email protected] for further information and to connect with her directly.


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