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Meaning-making in bereaved parents : process and outcome

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Meaning-making in bereaved parents : process and outcome

Lister, Suzanne (2005) Meaning-making in bereaved parents : process and outcome. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The primary purpose of this research was to examine the process of meaning-making in bereaved parents. Through a narrative inquiry I investigated how parents described their process of growth and making meaning. Sixteen parents whose children died from an illness provided descriptions of their bereavement and meaning-making process. Thirteen of those parents participated in a face-to-face interview (11 parents) or responded to the same interview questions in written form (2 parents). The remaining three parents provided written answers to an abbreviated version of the interview only. Meaning-making was defined as a parent's experience of having grown, found benefit or a purpose in life as a result of their child's death. The qualitative interview and written answers to questions explored the parents' bereavement experience and whether they experienced growth, benefit or purpose. The qualitative findings show a clear pattern of meaning-making over time. In the early phase after the death, parents who eventually found some meaning in the death of their child experienced great anguish, sadness, betrayal, and shattered assumptions. Parents tried to make sense of the illness but did not seem to try to make sense after the death. In the early period after the death, parents instead questioned their beliefs. Parents went through a period of trying to find meaning (Attig, 2001) where they were receptive to the environment and any cues that facilitated their existential questioning. After a period of time, the meaning-making parents reported that they needed to change; they reached a cross-roads and had to make a decision how they were going to continue living their lives. Once some of their spiritual beliefs had been reconciled and parents felt validated in their experience through significant others such as a support group, parents made a decision to re-work their priorities, values, commitments, actions, and relationships. The parents who found meaning were committed to creating a legacy for their child through their actions. This helped sustain the relationship with the child and maintained the role of parent. This process of meaning-making was then discussed in relation to the Dual Process Model (Stroebe & Schut, 1999). Some support for the model and differences between the data and the Dual Process Model were noted.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Lister, Suzanne
Pagination:x, 207 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:School of Graduate Studies
Date:2005
Thesis Supervisor(s):Pushkar, Dolores
ID Code:8488
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:26
Last Modified:18 Aug 2011 15:27
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