Childhood Loss Experiences, Religiousness/Spirituality, and Hope as Predictors of Adult Life Satisfaction

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore how adaptive patterns of religiousness/spirituality and hope predict adult life satisfaction in adults, even if they had childhood loss experiences. Design and Methods: Using a cross-sectional survey design with132 adult participants (mean age 33.8 ± 15.2, 82% female, 78% Caucasian) we estimated two hierarchical regression models to examine how dimensions of religiousness/spirituality (Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality) and hope (Herth Hope Index) predicted adult life satisfaction (Satisfaction with Life Scale) after controlling for effects of adverse childhood experiences (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study Questionnaire) or chronic sorrow from childhood loss (Kendall Chronic Sorrow Instrument). Results: When effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) were controlled, higher levels of hope (β =.416, p <.001) and forgiveness (β =.273, p =.023) and lower levels of religious/spiritual values/beliefs (β = −.298, p =.014) predicted higher levels of adult life satisfaction. ACE remained a significant predictor of adult life satisfaction in the final model. When controlling for effects of chronic sorrow, higher life satisfaction was predicted only by forgiveness (β =.379, p =.003), values/beliefs (β = −.354, p =.007), and hope (β =.357, p <.001), with chronic sorrow not a significant predictor of adult life satisfaction in the final model. Conclusion: Greater life satisfaction for adult survivors of childhood loss experiences could be promoted by interventions to enhance hope and foster forgiveness. These adult survivors may also need support as they engage with religious/spiritual struggle to reconcile their values and beliefs with childhood loss.