A study of bereavement and the (reactive) depression that may result from it : with specific reference to the function of faith
The purpose of this thesis was to examine the function of religious faith in the bereavement process. Contemporary studies which have a psychological orientation have tended to disparage the role of faith in working through grief. This tendency has contributed to the role of faith not being thoroughly investigated to discover why it is a poor predictor of the outcome of bereavement. A detachment process theory which analyses the function of faith from a theological perspective was proposed. This hypothesis, that the reservoir of the individual's inner resources: (i.e., i) meanings envisaged in hope, ii) faith as a life-force, and iii) the ordering of one's world) is basic in resolving grief to reach a normal state. To test whether this hypothesis is tenable a field survey was carried out among a group of bereaved persons and helping professionals to examine the function of faith during the bereavement process. This thesis is divided into five sections. The first section explores the historical approaches to bereavement, which concerns the development of attitudes towards death from Greek times to the contemporary era. The second section examines the past research and theories relevant to the bereavement process from both religious and psychological viewpoints. The third section presents the proposed detachment process theory alongside the field survey which was carried out in Aberdeen and its environs. The data from the survey was analysed by Chi-square (X2) and Mann-Whitney test. The fourth section explores the theological imperatives in respect to the devastating effects arising from the loss of a 'significant other' by death. The study concludes in section five with a summary of the findings and their implications for those involved in helping the bereaved persons. The questionnaires which were utilised in the field survey are included in this section. The salient factor in this research is that: faith is impinged upon by the bereaved person's beliefs about the hereafter. The beliefs acquired after the loss of a 'significant other' are not cognate with those held in the nonbereaved community of believers.