A phenomenological study into the lived experience of traumatic bereavement for adults aged 21-55

Harris, Susan Angela Judith (2020) A phenomenological study into the lived experience of traumatic bereavement for adults aged 21-55. DProf thesis, Middlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling. [Thesis]

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This dissertation explores the lived experience of traumatic bereavement in adults aged between 21 and 55. Although all bereavement can be experienced as a devastating loss, the term traumatic bereavement refers to a sudden, unexpected death, which is often experienced in violent and frightening circumstances. The present study aimed to identify the phenomenological ‘essence’ or meaning of traumatic bereavement, which refers to the process of identifying common themes. A phenomenological study is not limited by a particular experience of traumatic loss, thus, the present study did not restrict the co-researcher's participation by mode of death.

A descriptive phenomenological research method was employed and a total of 12 traumatically bereaved adults were interviewed using semi structured interviews. The data was analysed by cross-referencing data sets until six key themes were identified: isolation; self-protection; loss of meaning; meaning driven existence; transformation of beliefs and values, and physical response to the loss. The co-researchers experienced psychological growth as a result of self-protection from social stigma and lack of knowledge. The findings are discussed in light of the traumatic bereavement literature, and an existential model of recovery is proposed. Finally, suggestions for further research, and potential changes in the psychotherapy and counselling field are proposed.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Keywords (uncontrolled): Traumatic bereavement, trauma, descriptive phenomenological study, meaning making, existential counselling and psychotherapy
Research Areas: B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 34950
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2022 08:47
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:15
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/34950

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