Bereavement research is reaching the hundred-year landmark of the publication of Freud’s classic 1917 ‘Mourning and Melancholia’, an essay of great significance for subsequent theoretical developments, particularly — in the current context — with regard to the centrality placed on ‘grief work’ in coming to terms with bereavement. Where do we stand now, a century on, in our understanding of the nature of adaptive coping? In this article, after providing a summary of theoretical approaches across the decades of the twentieth century, we illustrate an important direction in contemporary research on coping, tracing this from the grief work notion to what has evolved into fine-grained examinations of confrontational-avoidant processing. A main thrust of recent investigation has been (1) to postulate and (2) to evaluate the efficacy of underlying mechanisms in relation to (mal)adaptive coping with bereavement: there has been systematic examination of regulatory cognitive-emotional processes in both clinical trials and more theoretically-focused studies. Evidence has become more conclusive; both types of investigation have benefitted from employment of newly available designs and techniques, and novel statistical methods. However, further establishment of the role of coping processes in (mal)adaptation is needed. We suggest directions for future research in this domain.