Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Renegotiating relationships, patterns of grief and experiences of support: An examination of mothers' relationships with their daughters following daughters' loss of a husband in the September 11 th, 2001 World Trade Center attacks
by Cardillo-Geller, Lauren, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2010, 301; 3420884
Abstract (Summary)

Purpose: The aim of this qualitative study was to examine the impact of loss on a group of mothers supporting their daughters whose husbands were killed in the September 11th, 2001 World Trade Center attacks and to enhance understanding of how the mother-daughter relationship was altered by the traumatic grief experience. Methods: A phenomenological, multiple-case study design, following grounded theory methods, was utilized with fourteen participating mother-widow dyads in which the widow had lost her husband in the September 11th, 2001 World Trade Center attacks. Mothers (ages 53-72 at 9/11) and widows (ages 31-45 at 9/11) participated in one semi-structured interview each, five-six years following the attacks. Narratives were analyzed individually as well as collectively so as to understand each participant's story within its relational context. Findings: The renegotiation of the mother-widow relationship following the traumatic loss occurred in an effort to maintain familial equilibrium and was found to progress through a series of four states Each state entailed various changes in boundaries, roles and relational dynamics, which led to different relational and individual outcomes. For mothers, the cumulative impact of loss, trauma and aging led to a pile-up of secondary stressors which resulted in negative outcomes including poor health and mental health, increased conflict in the mother-daughter relationship and trauma symptomatology. Grieving and serving as key support providers to their bereaved daughters caused strain in mothers' marital, social, familial and work lives; however, post-traumatic growth outcomes were also identified. Implications: Evidence from this study suggests that bereavement is a relationally determined process. Further expansion of current research and practice models to include the assessment of how individual and relational factors interact to produce grief processes and outcomes would help to build upon interpersonal theories of bereavement and refine interventions with bereaved families.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Christ, Grace H.
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Social work, Womens studies, Counseling Psychology, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Bereavement, Daughters, Family stress, Grief, Mothers, Traumatic loss
Publication Number: 3420884
ISBN: 978-1-124-18582-8
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