Living with the loss of Canada’s fallen soldiers: a qualitative study of family members' experiences following deaths in combat

Harrington, Christina (2014) Living with the loss of Canada’s fallen soldiers: a qualitative study of family members' experiences following deaths in combat. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Canada‘s military involvement in Afghanistan following the September 11th attacks on the US resulted in the deaths of 158 Canadian soldiers. These deaths have left hundreds of family members to mourn their loss. These deaths have also illuminated gaps in bereavement epistemology and a dearth of literature (particularly Canadian) on the nature of bereavement following combat related deaths. This qualitative study, drawing from phenomenology, sought to uncover the nature of bereavement experiences of family of origin, whose son/sibling was killed in action during the mission to Afghanistan. Questions guiding the study explored family members‘ perceptions of: the differences and commonalities of grief following this type of sudden death; family members‘ perceptions and experiences on how the public nature of the deaths and culture of the military influenced their grief and mourning; and, how surviving family members reconstructed meanings related to the death in their attempts to integrate the loss (and trauma) into their life narrative. The rich data gathered in the study reveals three core themes. First, the analysis examines the predominant ways in which family members found and made meaning following the death. Second, the role and function that metaphorical articulation (e.g. ritual, symbology, memorial) played in the mourning the deaths and reconstructing meaning are discussed. Finally, the co-occurrence of trauma is discussed and how this influences the processes of meaning making. The study illuminates the experience of family members (parents and siblings) who have lost a loved-one in combat and provides direction for further research, for intervention and social work practice with families as they deal with grief and bereavement, and has potential implications for policy and military protocol following combat related deaths.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 8094
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 221-234).
Department(s): Social Work, School of
Date: October 2014
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Families of military personnel--Psychology; War and families--Canada; Afghan War, 2001--Casualties; Bereavement--Psychological aspects

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