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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An existential-phenomenological approach to understanding the meaning of grief Claspell, Emily


The study investigated the experience of grief with the aim of understanding the meaning of the phenomenon. Meaning is assumed to be a beginning or a platform from which theory, research and practice can evolve. Eight individuals, four women and four men, ranging in age from 33 to 50 were recruited from a network of friends and acquaintances, for participation in the study. Each person was asked to describe a personal grief experience and to validate the analysis within the context of three interviews. The interviews were taped, transcribed and used as the data for the study. The meaning of grief was studied by using an existential-phenomenological approach. The analysis followed the descriptive methodologies outlined by Giorgi (1975) in Duquesne Studies in Phenomenological Psychology II and by Colaizzi (1978) in Existential-Phenomenological Alternatives for Psychology. The results directly address the question: What- is the meaning of grief? The major constituents (or themes) were described and woven into an exhaustive phenomenological description of grief. The essential structure, derived from the phenomenological description, is the condensed descriptive definition of grief and was presented in an unequivocal statement of meaning.

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