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ERIC Number: ED534602
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 228
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1248-9258-0
The Essence of Peer Bereavement for American Youth of Color: A Phenomenological Exploration
Wheat, Laura S.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Virginia
At any given point in time, significant numbers of teenagers are impacted by the death of someone their age. Peer bereavement in middle adolescence coincides with a period when adolescents are primarily concerned with peer relationships and struggling to construct a stable identity for themselves. Peer bereavement interferes with these developmental issues and represents a vulnerability for adolescents. Very few published studies have investigated adolescent peer bereavement. Many studies were conducted with exclusively or majority White samples. This situation has created a glaring gap in the literature and disenfranchises adolescents of other races, potentially sending the message that their experience does not count. Those in positions of support for affected youth do not have accurate information. The current qualitative study was designed to fill this gap in the literature. Three African American adolescent females participated in individual in person interviews focusing on the research question, "How do middle adolescent American youth of color perceive and describe their experience of peer bereavement?" Their interviews were transcribed and analyzed according to the phenomenological method described by Moustakas (1994). Findings suggest that youth of color experience intense feelings of grief after a peer dies, and that they perceive the relationship to have been quite close regardless of physical distance. They may withdraw and distrust others who ask many questions or try to say they know how they feel. They may experience dissonance as they realize even young people can die. Coping through technology, in addition to socially sanctioned rituals, can be important sources of recognition and support. Support may be most helpful when offered in a way that is congruent with their needs. In the long term, if these youth reconcile their losses, they may experience greater empathy and maturity. This study provides a number of possibilities for future research andr practice. If repeated with a larger sample of adolescents of many races, a much more nuanced picture may emerge. Counselors and counselor educators in particular can use these results to better assist a population very much in need of recognition. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A