Example Of Research Proposal On Bereavement Among Young Adults Who Lost Their Spouses; Age Between 25 To 35

Type of paper: Research Proposal

Topic: Teenagers, Youth, Study, Spouse, Marriage, Death, Education, Development

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/12/05

Bereavement among Young Adults who lost their Spouses; Age between 25 to 35

Loss of a couple among young adults is very traumatizing. Most studies and research conducted on the topic of bereavement pay attention to the grief process of older couples when they lose a spouse, the loss of siblings and loss of a parent while no or little attention is given to the loss of a couple among young adults. Young adults, in this case, refer to individuals between the age of 25 and 35 years. The purpose and aim of this research is to instigate a comprehensive and coherent understanding of bereavement among young adults who lost their spouses. In this section of the research proposal, an extensive literature review of the loss of spouses among young adults, the grieving process, the impact of the young adult bereavement, strategies used to intervene or cope with young adult bereavement and any available theories that relate to coping and adapting in young adult bereavement. The literature review conducted specifically digs into studies, research work, and scholarly materials to determine the existing knowledge on the topic of discussion. This is because there is little information about bereavement in young adults who have lost spouses (DeMinco, 1995). The literature review conducted presents the background upon which the research questions to be studied is developed in the explanatory study.

Literature Review

Young adults consist of individuals of between the ages of 25 to 35 years. Lagrand, (1986) points out that those individuals who marry at such ages develop strong bonds that are bound to last for a long time. Losing a spouse at a young age could be quite devastating. At this stage, the relationship between the couples is still on the verge of growing and developing (Balk, 1991). Normally, the couples have bright futures and great plans including those of having a family. In essence, when a spouse dies, the situation becomes more that difficult for the remaining individuals especially when they have children. In an article published in the New York Times, Yarrow L. Andrew, the author, notes that a young family is usually ambitious of achieving milestones that define success and achievement by the spouses. Studies conducted by the American Counseling Association have shown that young adults make up the most supportive and collaborative families. Spouses support one another through all means possible while maintaining the integration of their individual identities. Balk, (1991) notes that when a couple loses a spouse, the immediate problem is always; ‘where do I find another one like him/her?’ Studies conducted in the USA and Canada have pointed out that, immediately a couple is separated through death, the immediate effects include PTSDs (Post Traumatic Stress Disorders), depression, anger, etc. (American Counseling Association). However, research has also shown that there are indeed strategies through which young adults can cope with losing their spouses.

The Effects of Loss of a Spouse

DeMinco, (1995) asserts that most studies conducted on the grieving process whenever individuals lose a close member of the family or a relative note that the most significant impact is feeling sad and devastated while exhibiting stress and depression symptom. It is common that when an individual dies, close relatives will miss his/her presence (Lagrand, 1986). However, this is usually for a short time before they start seeking answers about the death of the spouse in case the cause is not immediately known (Thatcher, 2002). In essence, for the case of adults, such effects are normally reactive due to the feeling that is defined by misery and melancholy (Sundar & Nelson, 2003). Studies show that most individuals who lose people they love react angrily to the feeling of loneliness (Balk, 1991). Anger is characterized by the need to take revenge and make whatever might have led to the death of the spouse suffer. Sundar & Nelson, (2003) state that young adults are prone to developing strong relationships and bonds that when broken, might have far much wider consequences. While research indicates that there is an indirect relation characterizing the closeness of an individual and the deceased and the immediate feeling of losing them, young adults are greatly affected both emotionally and psychologically considering the strong bond they had created with the late (Yarrow, 1987).
A young adult’s grief can be a powerful and long-lasting experience that has negative effects on the individual his/herself and their family. Notably, in case the young adult couple had a baby or more, then the effects might be worse (Shernoff, 1997). For a no-child parent, the most significant effect will be loneliness, stress and depression caused from missing the deceased. Furthermore, such individual’s immediate worry will be finding somebody else who qualifies to ‘take the shoes’ of the deceased (DeMinco, 1995). On the other hand, study shows that parents who have had a baby or more with the deceased are likely to be affected more by the loss.
While to them the immediate problem might not be finding a replacement, they are tasked with the heavy burden of explaining to their children the reality on the ground and having to take care of them as a single parenting which has many negative consequences for the children (DeMinco, 1995). Notably, the extent of consequences depends on a number of things. First, young adults might blame themselves for failing to take care of their spouses and hence, react badly (Sundar & Nelson, 2003). Secondly, the need to go on with life without the support from the spouse also generates emotional stress and psychological torture for finding an alternative source of such support. Additionally, the cause of the loss or death also has a direct impact on the reactions of the young adult who has just lost a spouse (Lagrand, 1986).

Coping with the Loss

Losing a special person is painful to cope with. There are strong bonds of affection broken upon undergoing the loss, and that explains why it is so painful to lose a close friend or a relative. Nonetheless, the pain does disappear with time. According to Balk, (1982) the feeling of losing somebody special normally, does not last forever except in special cases. For the case of losing a spouse at a young age, studies have proven that there are a number of ways through which individuals can cope with the loss of a spouse. There are three strategy-based approaches that have been developed to help individuals cope with the loss of a spouse. Notably, while the approaches are designed to handle any case of grief coping, they are more applicable to young adults as they are defined by most aspects that define the bonds and relations that young individuals develop with their spouses (Winston, 2002).
First foremost, a study conducted in Europe developed an integrated framework referred to as Appraisal-Focused Coping (Stroebe & Schut, 1996). This model includes a comprehensive analysis of the issues surrounding the event of death and after that processing cognitions pertaining to the loss (Balk, 1982). For instance, considering the immediate shock of losing a spouse, an individual seeks information, justification and explanations that may account for the death of the spouse. Sundar & Nelson, (2003), asset that through soul searching and by time, the negative feelings of blame, anger and guilt are replaced by the effort to attach some meaningful explanation to the loss of the spouse. Furthermore, the aspect of religion, through appraisal of events can be used to deal with the loss (Winston, 2002). All religions have an explanation of death, and thus, can be used to cope with grief. Notably, rather than eliminating an individual’s pain at the loss of a spouse, religion forms a basis of acceptance that is crucial in alleviating the negative effects of loss.
The second approach is referred to as Problem-Focused Coping. This model involves a situation where individuals seek support and information from various sources, establish the most appropriate alternatives and thereafter take action (Stroebe & Schut, 1996). A young adult who has just lost a spouse will seek social support from professionals, colleagues, and family. The information sharing about the loss helps alleviate emotional and psychological pain (Balk, 1982). Social interaction enables one to come up with the best way of self-conduct in light of the bereavement. Subsequently, they implement these alternatives to help them return to a normal psychological and emotional state (Sundar & Nelson, 2003).
The last approach is referred to as Emotion-Focused Coping. Through this model, individuals specifically manage their emotional feelings including despair, depression, stress, anger, etc. (Stroebe & Schut, 1996). For instance, in case a young adult loses a spouse; then they may distance themselves from the actual reality of the loss either physically or psychologically. This hiding-out process enables them to have special time alone away from everything, where they can easily realign their emotional state and allow them a good time to handle their psychological feelings (Balk, 1982). This can include acknowledging that indeed the spouse is no more and that that there is a need to go on with life.

The Current Study

Research Questions and Hypothesis
It is postulated that young adults who have lost their spouses are greatly affected by the loss and that there are various means through which they can cope with the grief rather than suffer the consequences. The research questions to be answered included;
1. What effects do young adults suffer when they lose their spouses?
2. Are there strategies and approaches that can be used to cope with the loss. If any, are they helpful or more harmful?
3. Are there any external influences to coping with loss when young adults lose their spouses?
4. Can a theory, model or framework for bereavement be developed for young adults who lose their spouses?

Research Design and Methodology

Research design and methodology are critical elements of any research activity. This study will use a grounded theory approach as the research design. This procedure is discovery-based and consents to the creation of a theory. This theory, on the other hand, is generated via holistic process of data coding that, by significance, is grounded in the individual participant experiences. It should be noted that this approach majorly bases on qualitative methods of collecting research data and hence, emphasizes more on induction rather than capitalizing on existing models (Patton, 1990). In essence, this approach will be fundamental in developing a theory that can be used to understand bereavement in young adults when they lose their spouses more willingly than merely confirming theoretical frameworks (Alvesson, 2000). In essence, integrating participant experiences and theoretical frameworks will form a basis through which a more considerable approach can be developed in the management of grief. It should be noted that grounded theory approach was proposed for this study because it fits well into the objectives and purposes of the study.
Primarily, the method use for data collection will involve in-depth interviews. Particular questions and interview topics will be developed in advance. An interview guide will be used to ensure that the process is successful by structuring questions appropriately and pacing the interview (Patton, 1990). These questions will directly correspond to the research questions. Secondarily, data will also be collected through participant observation. This observation will be indirect so that the sample unit does not change their behaviors when they discover they are being observed through direct observation.

Research Participants

Potential participants in this stand include young adults who have just lost a spouse. They will be notified of their participation in the interview before they are interviewed. To come up with the list of participants, the researcher will seek respondents from community support groups and institutions that offer such services. After compiling the list, the researcher will then invite the respondents to participate in the study. Those, who accept the invitation, will be briefed on their participant roles in the study and what is expected of them. They will also be given enough to prepare for the interviews. The above sampling strategy is adopted to avoid issues of victimization using other direct-approach strategies. The respondents will have to participate voluntarily, and the researcher will ensure that they are aware of this fact before they commit. Participation in the interviews will depend on the respondent’s discretion.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations ensure that research activities involving human participation adhere to principles that protect the participants from any form of abuse or coercion to participate. First and foremost, before the participants are subjected to interviews, they will have to allow the researcher to study on them (Corbin, 1990). In addition, the research will be required not to do or say anything that would cause psychological and emotional harm to the participants. In essence, the most difficult questions will be worded sensibly to avoid harm (Corbin, 1990). The researcher should not compromise the objectivity with subjectivity. In particular, personal opinions and thoughts of the researcher will not be part of the study. More significantly, information gathered from this process will be treated with great anonymity to cater for the confidentiality and privacy and the participants (Corbin, 1990). Lastly, the researcher will be expected to present and report the exact findings of the study. In general, the researcher should not input anything out of context into the information gathered from the interviews.


Alvesson, M., (2000). Reflexive methodology: New vistas for qualitative research. Thousand
American Counseling Association. Grief Reactions over the Lifespan. Fact Sheet 12.
Balk, D. (1982). Models for understanding adolescent coping with bereavement. Death Studies, Volume 20, 367-387.
Balk, D. (1991). Death and adolescent bereavement: Current research and future directions. Journal of Adolescent Research. Vol. 6(3), 7-27.
Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research. Newbury Park: Sage Publishing Co.
DeMinco, S., (1995). Young adult reactions to death in literature and life. Adolescence. Volume 30, 179-185.
Egan, G., (1980). Moving into adulthood: Themes and variations in self-directed development for effective living. Monterey: Brooks/Cole Publishing
Lagrand, L., (1986). Coping with separation and loss as a young adult: Theoretical and practical realities. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.
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Patton, M. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. Newbury Park: Sage Publications, Inc.
Shernoff, M., (1997). Gay Widowers: Life after the Death of a Partner. London: Haworth Press
Stroebe, M., & Schut, H., (1999). The dual process model of coping with bereavement: Rationale and description. Death Studies, Volume 23, 197-224.
Sundar, P & Nelson, G., (2003). Moving Towards Resiliency: A Qualitative Study of Young Women’s Experiences of Sibling Bereavement. Currents, Vol. 2(1) pp 1-15
Thatcher, C., (2002). A Man’s Grief: Death of a Spouse. New York: Pan Macmillan.
Winston, A., (2002). Bereavement: When Someone Close Dies. Health Service Executive.
Yarrow, L. A. (1987). Young, Widowed and New to Self-Help. Retrieved from <www.nytimes.com/1987/02/11/graden/young-widowed-and-new-to-self-help>. Accessed on 1st March, 2015.

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