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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A descriptive analysis of helpful behaviour for assisting the widowed in bereavement Easton, Jessica Louise


Widowhood and bereavement was explored in depth to determine an effective criteria for helping the widowed through bereavement, based upon their descriptive repall of the experience of grief. Fifteen adult women, who had engaged in group therapy, were interviewed. The critical incident technique was used to identify what factors hindered or facilitated the widows during grief in the two hundred and forty-one experiences collected. Each incident was categorized according to which factors were considered helpful and which factors were considered harmful. The study yielded two levels of categorization: categories and sub-categories. Five categories of helpful incidents emerged from the data which were labelled taking action, receiving support, sharing the grief, verbal reassurance and physical comfort. Five categories of hindering incidents emerged from the data which were inability to act, lack of support, feeling alone, verbal criticism and physical distress. Of these, the largest number of incidents in both the helpful and harmful categories were found in receiving support and lack of support. In the receiving support sample, perceived support whether initiated or received by the widow was experienced as helpful. In the lack of support sample, the widow expected or needed to be treated differently and when others responded in a way she did not expect the widow perceived it as lack of support. Independent judges found these categories reliable. Results are examined by comparing the data generated to relevant literature and suggesting some criteria for helping the widow through grief.

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