Constructing grief : an analysis of young people's talk following the unexpected death of a peer : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
This research explores how young people talk about grief following the sudden and unexpected death of one of their peers. The study investigates the construction of grief by analysing the everyday language young people use when talking about grief. Ten bereaved young people were interviewed and their interviews transcribed to produce texts of grief talk. These texts were then analysed using the Potter & Wetherell (1992) approach to discourse analysis. The study identifies the discourse of control as an important part of the construction of grief in young people. The just world discourse that participants draw upon to construct their experience of grief as life changing and profound is also identified. Grief is constructed through talk as an external behavioural response as opposed to an internal emotion. Analysis of the talk also reveals that the participants construct grief as a collective undertaking. The embodiment of grief is identified as a way in which the participants combat the loss of ontological security caused by the death of their peer. The dominant youth culture discourse of un-emotionality is drawn upon frequently in the participants' constructions of grief. These findings offers a valuable new insight into the way in which young people construct grief differently to older adults following the sudden and unexpected death of a peer, and indicates the significance of the social and cultural context in which the study of grief occurs.