Natalie FordFollow




Counseling Department


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Lisa Sosin


Adaptation, Bereavement, Postvention, Resilience, Suicide Bereavement, Survivor of Suicide


Counseling | Counselor Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Over six million people are influenced by the suicide of someone they love yearly; survivors of suicide are at greater risk for suicide themselves. This interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) explored postvention factors that led to resiliency in widows who lost their husbands to suicide, in order to explore the needs and inform the treatment of suicide survivors, who are at greater risk, from attempting suicide themselves. A purposive, self-selected sample of six widows who lost their husbands to suicide at least two years prior and who scored a minimum of 3.8 on the Brief Resilience Scale (BRS) participated in the study. The participants engaged in one hour qualitative interviews and completed a reflective journal. In response to the first research question, asking for a description of the bereavement process, participants portrayed the process as a struggle to redefine self, a loss of the anticipated self, and extreme loneliness. In response to the second question exploring what factors participants perceived fostered adaptation and resiliency in the bereavement process, the co-researchers identified three factors that fostered adaptation and resiliency: sense-making and finding purpose in the loss, resolve, and routine. Lastly, one factor was identified as hindering adaptation and resiliency: a desire to protect image from stigma. The co-researchers were able to overcome the impediments caused by stigma as they felt free to share their stories for the sake of helping others. The emergent themes were congruent with existing research and recommendations for future research were provided.