Date of Award

Summer 6-20-2001

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Michael Schock

Second Advisor

Lois Bosch

Third Advisor

Adele Mehta


This exploratory, descriptive, qualitative study examines how life marker events, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, affect the grieving process of elderly caregivers who have lost their spouses. The study looked at what feelings the participants remembered having on life marker event days during the self-defined periods of their bereavement. The purposive sample was chosen from clients of Senior Community Services. Four women between the ages of 75 and 85 who had lost their spouses not less than eighteen months and not over two years prior to the study being conducted participated in structured interviews. The interviews consisted of open-ended questions that helped the participants to define chronological time periods in their bereavement and then encouraged the participants to remember their most significant feelings on days of life marker events during the second and third self-defined time periods of their bereavement. I found in my research that the participants did not experience or did not remember experiencing several of the emotions usually associated with grief theories. Feelings of shock, denial, anger and guilt were denied by the participants. Another common theme in the findings is that each of the participants reported feelings of relief that their husbands were no longer suffering. Each participant was careful to point out that the relief felt was not for themselves, but for their husbands. One unique finding that I did not see in the literature is that the participants felt more sad on life event marker days that had celebrated by the couple alone. Holidays and birthdays that had been celebrated with other family members and friends were reported to be less difficult for the widows than wedding anniversaries and other private celebrations. Based on these findings, further research is necessary on the grieving process of elderly caregivers who have lost their spouses.


SC 11.MSW.2001.Galarnea.GE

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