Living with Bereavement: An ethnographic study of young people's experiences of parental death
Date: 8 October 2009
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
PhD in Sport and Health Sciences
The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of young people who had attended a residential weekend intervention for bereaved children. Having gained access to Winston’s Wish, the UK’s leading child bereavement organisation, participant observation was undertaken at three camps for different types of bereavement (accident ...
The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of young people who had attended a residential weekend intervention for bereaved children. Having gained access to Winston’s Wish, the UK’s leading child bereavement organisation, participant observation was undertaken at three camps for different types of bereavement (accident and illness, suicide, and murder), an Outward Bound weekend specifically for bereaved teenagers, and various social-therapeutic events organised by Winston’s Wish throughout the year. Interviews were conducted with key staff members within the organisation and a documentary analysis of the charity’s literature and media presentations was performed. Utilizing purposeful sampling and following University ethical approval, one boy and one girl from the same family who had recently been bereaved through suicide, and one brother and sister who had recently been bereaved through murder were interviewed. An additional 9 young people (5 females, 4 males) who had been bereaved at least ten years ago were also interviewed. Wolcott’s (1994) ‘description, analysis and interpretation’ approach to transforming qualitative data was adopted, which included a content analysis of all the data generated through observational notes, interview transcripts and reflexive journal entries. From the analysis, six key themes emerged: physical activity, expressing emotion, positive adult relationship(s), area of competence, friendships/social support, and having fun/ humour. These were then represented in the format of a wheel, or the ‘Moving Wheel Model’. This arrangement of themes and the use of the word ‘Moving’ was deliberately chosen to reflect the dynamic and inter-related factors that became prominent at different points in the young people’s bereavement journeys. The main body of this thesis explores these themes in greater depth and offers illustrative examples of how these factors played out in the lives of bereaved children. Finally, applications of the model, and implications for research and practice are discussed.
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