The social construction of grief associated with sudden death : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University

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Massey University
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This research explores how grief is socially constructed, by analysis of the everyday language people use when talking about grief associated with the sudden or unexpected death of a family member. The study deconstructs grief talk in transcripts of interviews with ten participants recently bereaved. The texts were read and discourses producing grief and subjectivity are illustrated. With grief being constituted through language, this was analysed by use of Potter and Wetherell (1992) model of discourse analysis. The study tends to support the notion that there are idiosyncratic aspects to grief which are constructed and constituted in multiple discourses. Grief, is constructed as inner complex emotions that are influenced by social and cultural factors which bring understanding and meaning to the loss. Grief is something that people 'do' rather than something that is 'done' to them, and therefore, is personal management as people deal and cope with a mixture of other emotions and thoughts which are embodied within the individual. These emotions and thoughts to some extent are able to be controlled. Grief, although an inner complex emotional response to death, is dealt with and managed in social relatedness. However, there are aspects of grief that could not be constructed linguistically, suggesting that grief is not entirely socially or culturally constituted. Thus, there may be aspects to grief which are never resolved, as there are no words to give meaning to that experience. Grief, has many determinants which affect the outcome of bereavement.
Sudden death, Bereavement, Psychological aspects