International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Turning a Tragedy into a Tribute: A Qualitative Exploration of Creating Meaning after the Loss of a Parent
June Tyson

Death prompts us to reexamine our assumptions about life. We are affected on the physical, spiritual, and emotional levels when someone we care for dies. If we are not able to effectively cope with such loss, we may be vulnerable to exhaustion, illness, and even premature death. Coping with the death of a loved one is more than getting over the experience and moving on. The literature and research suggests that creating meaning is an important strategy in recovering from loss. The purpose of this study was to explore how men and women who are middle-class and of various race, ethnicity, and cultural and religious backgrounds who reside in New York created meaning from the death of their first parent. Participants were 18 and older, 2–5 years into the grieving process, with one living parent. This phenomenological, qualitative study used in-depth, semistructured interviews to discover if and how the participants created meaning from the death of a parent. This study was to discover whether creating meaning is a tool to remember and celebrate the lives of the participants’ parents and maintain a relationship with their lost loved ones and, if so, how. Grief counselors may also benefit from the results of this study. This study found evidence that stories and other creative forms of expression increase or provide a resolution enabling one to create meaning as a result of the grief process.

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