School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Laura L. Rolen


African American, African American women, grief, complicated grief, resiliency, coping, women




Complicated grief can have an impact on the resiliency and coping skills of African American women in ways that can be damaging in their daily life routines. Research studies have focused on the female population affected by complicated grief, but none of these studies have looked specifically at the African American female population. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to examine the lived experiences and resiliency of African American women coping with complicated grief following significant loss utilizing an open-ended survey. The population for this study was African American women, living in the southern areas of Connecticut, who have experienced complicated grief after a significant loss within a 2-year timeframe. Data for this study were collected from electronic surveys that were distributed to participants after they enrolled in the study. The overwhelming majority, 35 out of the 38 participants, felt that spirituality and a relationship with God is a prominent coping skill to demonstrate resilience when impacted with complicated grief after a significant loss. As indicated in the open-ended survey results, the overall common theme was established that African American women lean on their spiritual connection and relationship with God to cope with complicated grief after a significant loss and that there is a need for a safe space to express significant loss when dealing with complicated grief and to increase forms of support, interventions, and treatments in faith-based institutions. This research illuminated these experiences and added to the literature about complicated grief in this population.

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