The Isolated Search for Meaning: A Phenomenological Study of Adolescent Grief and Bereavement
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This thesis reports on the findings of a phenomenological study that explored the experiences of loss, grief, and bereavement in adolescents. In light of the increased use of social media amongst young adults and the potential use of technology as a source of expression for grievers, this study focused on random collections of online grief blogs from various adolescents. Forty-two adolescent blog authors were selected between the ages of 13 and 18 years. Blogs were posted between the years 2012 and 2015. The selected authors varied in gender, demographics, socio-economic status, and lived experiences. The data was analyzed using van Manen’s (1997) methods for isolating thematic statements: the detailed reading approach; the selective or highlighting approach; and the holistic reading approach. The themes of Isolation and Loneliness; Attachment and Quality of Relationship; Meaning and Purpose; and Guilt and Responsibility were identified as recurring throughout the blog transcripts and are discussed with reference to the literature and the philosophical underpinnings of grief and bereavement. It is evident from a number of the bloggers in this study that adolescents exhibit a reluctance to seek support from parents and other adults. In addition, bereavement appears to be something dealt with in isolation and hidden from peers. Adding further complication are feelings of guilt and uncertainties about the predictability and relatedness to the world. The article concludes with considerations regarding the future potential of cyber counselling.