Date of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Dr. Bree Alexander

Second Reader

Patrice Penney


While death of a loved one or peer is likely experienced by everyone at least once in their lifetime, bereavement is far from a universalized experience. Just as no two people are alike, no two relationships are alike. Thus, no two losses breed the same after-effects. Multiple factors influence the individual characteristics of bereavement, such as mode of loss, relationship to the deceased, and possible societal barriers. This study explores the impact of a sudden unexpected death on young adults based on their relational closeness to the deceased, including plausible reasoning behind reactions and influences on post-loss adjustment. Young adults are particularly vulnerable to sudden bereavement and were therefore the focus of this study. Semi-structured interview questions were used to research the symptoms, predictors, and needs of bereaved young adults and interpretative phenomenological data analysis was used to group together common themes of interest regarding bereavement and relational closeness. A Likert scale was used to categorize levels of closeness (range 1-5) and findings indicated both shared and differing grief reactions that spanned across varying ranges, categorized by six themes: sense of distrust (relational closeness 1-5), sense of guilt (relational closeness 2-5), sense of anger and sense of maturity (relational closeness 1-3), along with suddenness and support (relational closeness 1-5) as related to post-loss adjustment. Reflections of bereaved young adults offer insight into one’s unique bereavement reactions and how those reactions often relate to a grander emotional barrier that may be shared across levels of relational closeness. To this end, we can better understand the effects of sudden loss on young adults and more adequately relate to their needs. My goal is to offer recognition and support to the young adult, suddenly bereaved population and ultimately take a step towards normalizing the conversation around grief.

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© 2024, Teaghan B. Brosokas