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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bereavement and spirituality : mourning loss of a parent using Jewish rituals Shurack, Nuta Yisrael


Coping with the loss of a loved one is one of the greatest challenges a person faces. Research shows that rituals can be beneficial during mourning, yet there is limited literature documenting the experiences of Jewish individuals and how using Jewish rituals affected their bereavement. This qualitative study explored the experiences of Jewish adults who have mourned the loss of a parent using Jewish rituals. Drawing on aspects of phenomenology, I examined the subjective experiences of individuals who had experienced the loss of a parent. In-depth interviews were used to gain understanding of which Jewish rituals individuals chose to engage in and why. By examining participants’ experiences and what meaning they attributed to their lived experiences with these rituals, I aimed to enhance understanding of how Jewish rituals were perceived and experienced. Four individuals participated in this study: three females and one male. The female participants were 37, 53, and 72 years old, and the male participant was 68 years old. The study examined how each person felt about the rituals they utilized and what meaning they made of the experience. It further sought common themes from the four participants that could inform social workers' and pastoral counselors' practice, as well as further understanding of experiences of individuals who had lost a parent. Findings were that several rituals had a positive effect on individuals mourning by making the bereavement period less stressful and smoother. This was true regardless of how religious participants were (or were at the time they engaged in them). The study also revealed that individuals recommended the use of rituals to people when mourning the loss of a parent.

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