Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Degree Program

Counselor Education

Department

Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Dr. Watson Zarus

Second Advisor

Dr. Dufrene Roxane

Third Advisor

Dr. Herlihy Barbara

Abstract

Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore perceptions of loss and grief experiences within religious rites and rituals vis-à-vis the context of counseling. Literature indicated the need for a better understanding of grief and loss experiences from bereaved individuals’ perspectives and the context within which loss and grief experiences occur (Dillenburger & Keenan, 2005; Stroebe, Hansson, Schut, & Stroebe, 2008). Participants for this study included 10 purposefully selected Catholic members from two Catholic Church parishes in Nigeria, Africa. All participants had experienced loss and grief, had participated in Catholic burial and funeral rites and rituals, and were 21 years or older.

The main research question was: How do bereaved individuals perceive their grief experiences within the context of Catholic burial and funeral rites and rituals? Data collected to answer the research questions consisted of observations, semi-structured interviews, and documents. A cross-analysis approach was used that identified 63 themes, which were collapsed into 11 major themes. depicted in three areas; bereaved participants’ grief experiences, bereaved participants’ experiences of rites and rituals, and implications for counseling. The findings of this study indicated that loss of a relationship was a dominant preoccupation in grief and grieving process. Additional themes reflected by bereaved individuals’ grief and grieving experiences were; time and nature of death, religious rites and rituals, family and community support, family frictions, financial stressors, positive memories, belief system, finding meaning, ongoing traumatization, and counseling. Overall, the conclusion from this study was that three areas conceptualize loss and grief experiences: bereaved participants’ grief experiences, bereaved participants’ experiences of rites and rituals, and implications for counseling.

Rights

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