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Continuity in the Midst of Change: The Bereavement Experiences of Twelve Older Adult Widowers

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dc.contributor.advisor Fleming, Stephen J.
dc.creator Kipper, Karen Elisabeth Mary
dc.date.accessioned 2015-08-28T15:09:11Z
dc.date.available 2015-08-28T15:09:11Z
dc.date.copyright 2014-11-17
dc.date.issued 2015-08-28
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10315/29960
dc.description.abstract The purpose of this study was to investigate how spousal bereavement affects the lives of men who are widowed in their 60s and older. In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 widowers aged 68 to 94 years (average 83) whose wives had died 2 to 10 years earlier, following marriages that had lasted from 37 to 61 years (average 50 years). The goal was to discover core themes that reflected the experiences and insights of these men, by analysis of their interviews using the grounded theory method with methodological hermeneutics. The resulting theory is represented by a hierarchical category structure featuring one core category and two second-level categories, supported by multiple subcategories, branches, and sub-branches. The core category was interpreted as “Continuity in the Midst of Change,” which combines the grounded and stabilising force of continuity with the challenge and uncertainty of change in the widowers’ lives. The diverse changes and challenges the men had faced, most notably, but not solely, the death of their wives, took place within the context of continuity in the men’s lives. The first second-level category, “Relationships, Work, and Activities,” concerns the past and present fundamental aspects of life for the widowers: the lasting effects of the lives they shared with their wives, ongoing relationships with family and friends, the communities they belonged to, and the work and other activities with which they were involved. These enduring effects collectively formed a life reviewing narrative that represented continuity in the men’s present lives, which contributed to resilience in the aftermath of spousal loss. The other second-level category, “Death, Loss, and Other Changes,” represents the changes and challenges the men recounted. The coexistence of conjugal bereavement in later life with other challenges added additional complexity to loss. The findings of this study are discussed in light of bereavement theory and research, including the concepts of continuing bonds, resiliency, and meaning, and also in reference to psychogerontology theory and research, including ideas about diversity, selectivity, continuity, and personality in later life. The theoretical and clinical implications of this study and recommendations for future research are discussed.
dc.language.iso en
dc.rights Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
dc.subject Developmental psychology
dc.subject Clinical psychology
dc.subject Gerontology
dc.title Continuity in the Midst of Change: The Bereavement Experiences of Twelve Older Adult Widowers
dc.type Electronic Thesis or Dissertation en_US
dc.degree.discipline Psychology (Functional Area: Clinical Psychology)
dc.degree.name PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
dc.degree.level Doctoral
dc.date.updated 2015-08-28T15:09:11Z
dc.subject.keywords Bereavement
dc.subject.keywords Continuity
dc.subject.keywords Grief
dc.subject.keywords Grounded theory
dc.subject.keywords Hermeneutics
dc.subject.keywords Meaning
dc.subject.keywords Narrative
dc.subject.keywords Older adults
dc.subject.keywords Resilience
dc.subject.keywords Widowers

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