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Title: The lived experience of traumatically bereaved adults : a phenomenological study
Author: Paidoussis, Chloe
Awarding Body: University of Wales
Current Institution: Regent's University London
Date of Award: 2010
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The present research study investigates the lived experience of Traumatic Bereavement in order to understand the impact such an experience of trauma and loss has on the bereaved person’s meaningmaking process. The study defined Traumatic Bereavement in a broad sense by including all deaths that were untimely, unexpected, sudden and unpreventable. Six traumatically bereaved women were interviewed, with Traumatic Bereavement experiences. These included heart attacks, a homicide, a road traffic accident and sudden death because of an undetected brain tumour. The data were analysed using a Descriptive Phenomenological approach – in particular Collaizi (1978) – and five main themes emerged. An exhaustive description of these themes was produced in order to capture the lived experience of Traumatic Bereavement. Firstly, the traumatically bereaved experiences an intense shock which is accompanied by a feeling that the mind is in a state of cognitive arrest, unable to comprehend the reality of the loss. Secondly, the bereaved experiences a profound loss of meaning about how to go on living in the face of such trauma and loss. This is characterised by anxiety, fear and a profound realisation that she is no longer safe in the world, as there is no world order. Thirdly, the bereaved experiences an Existential awakening about her human condition. This is characterised by the feeling that human existence is absurd and meaningless as death is unpredictable and random. Fourthly, the bereaved experiences the need for meaning. She finds meaning by re-evaluating her life, being mindful of what is important to her and prioritising relationships with significant others. Fifthly, the bereaved experiences a spiritual awakening that helps her continue living in a meaningful way. The findings illustrate that Traumatic Bereavement has a profound impact on the traumatically bereaved person’s meaning-making process, bringing to her attention the need to become mindful of life’s opportunity for meaning. It is the ability to engage authentically with the Existential Givens of life that enables the traumatically bereaved person to establish meaning. The study proposes an Existential-Phenomenological Counselling Psychology clinical model for therapeutic work with traumatically bereaved clients.
Supervisor: Kirkland Handley, Nick Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bereavement ; Grief