SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.11 issue2Exploring the online health information seeking experiences of older adultsPerceived helpfulness and unfolding processes in body-oriented therapy practice author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

On-line version ISSN 1445-7377
Print version ISSN 2079-7222

Indo-Pac. j. phenomenol. (Online) vol.11 n.2 Grahamstown Oct. 2011 

Men's grief, meaning and growth: A phenomenological investigation into the experience of loss



Ole Michael Spaten; Mia Nørremark Byrialsen; Darren Langdridge




There is a scarcity of research on men's experience of bereavement (Reiniche, 2006), particularly in relation to qualitative research that focuses on the meaning of such an experience. This paper seeks to address this scarcity by presenting the findings from a phenomenological study of the life-worlds of a small number of bereaved men. The study looked specifically at how the loss of a spouse influences men's experience of meaning, grief and loss. Three men aged between 32 and 54 years old who had all lost their partners to cancer between 3 and 7 years ago were interviewed. The hermeneutic phenomenological method of Van Manen (1990) was used to uncover three key themes, labelled grief and self-reflection, meaning of life and loss, and re-figuring the life-world. These themes are discussed in the light of broader existential concerns and the extant literature.



“Full text available only in PDF format”




Baumeister, R. F. (1991). Meanings of life. New York, NY: Guilford Press.         [ Links ]

Byrialsen, M. N., & Spaten, O. M. (2008). Mœnds oplevelse af stotte og mening ved et tab [Men's experience of support and meaning at loss].         [ Links ] Copenhagen, Denmark: Institut for Kommunikation, Aalborg Universitet.

Bugental, J. F. T. (1981). The search for authenticity (enlarged ed.). New York, NY: Irvington.         [ Links ]

Bugge, K., Eriksen, H., & Sandvik O. (2003). Sorg [Grief].         [ Links ] Oslo, Norway: Fagbokforlaget Vigmostad & Bjorke.

Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.         [ Links ]

Cullberg, J. (2004). Dynamisk psykiatri [Dynamic psychiatry].         [ Links ] Copenhagen, Denmark: Hans Reitzels Forlag.

Davis, C. G., Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Larson, J. (1998). Making sense of loss and benefiting from the experience: Two construals of meaning, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(2), 561-574.         [ Links ]

Davis, C. G., & Hoeksema, S. N. (2001). Loss and meaning: How do people make sense of loss? The American Behavioural Scientist, 44(5), 726-741.         [ Links ]

Denzin, N., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994). Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.         [ Links ]

van Deurzen, E. (Ed.). (1998). Paradox and passion in psychotherapy: An existential approach to therapy and counselling. London: Routledge.         [ Links ]

Dutton Chentsova, Y., & Zisook, S. (2005). Adaptation to bereavement. Death Studies, 29(10), 877-903.         [ Links ]

Dyregrov, A. (2004). Katastrofepsykologi [Catastrophe psychology] (2 ed.         [ Links ]). Copenhagen: Psykologisk Forlag.

Elklit, A., & Jind, L. (1999). Forœldrereaktioner efter spœdbarnsd0d,         [ Links ] [Parental reactions after loss of a child]. Copenhagen: Forlaget Skolepsykologi.

Field, N. P., & Bonanno, G. (2001). The role of blame in adaptation in the first five years following the death of a spouse. American Behavioral Scientist, 44(5), 764-781.         [ Links ]

Fitchett, G. (1980a). Wisdom and folly in death and dying. Journal of Religion and Health 19(3), 203-214.         [ Links ]

Fitchett, G. (1980b). It's time to bury the stage theory of death and dying, Oncology Nurse Exchange, 2(3) 97-104.         [ Links ]

Frankl, V. (1984). Man's search for meaning. (Revised and updated edition) New York: Washington Square Press.         [ Links ]

Frankl, V. (1986). The doctor and the soul: From psychotherapy to logotherapy. (3rd ed.) (Trans. R. Winston & C. Winston) New York: Vintage.         [ Links ]

Frankl, V. (1992/1997). Man's search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. Boston, MA: Beacon.         [ Links ]

Freud, S. (1917/1957). Mourning and Melancholia. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.) The Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol 14). London, United Kingdom: Hogarth.         [ Links ]

Gadamer, H. G. (1975). Truth and method. New York, NY: Seabury.         [ Links ]

Garfield, C. A. (Ed.) (1978). Psychological care of the dying patient. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.         [ Links ]

Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press.         [ Links ]

Giddens, A. (1992). The transformation of intimacy: Sexuality, love and eroticism in modern societies. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press.         [ Links ]

Giorgi, A., & Giorgi, B. (2008). Phenomenology. In J. A. Smith (Ed.), Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods. (2nd ed., pp. 26-52). London, United Kingdom: Sage.         [ Links ]

Jacobsen, B. (2006). The life crisis in an existential perspective - Can trauma and crisis be seen as an aid in personal development. Existential Analysis, 17(1), 39-54.         [ Links ]

James, W. (1890/1963). Principles of psychology. New York, NY: Fawcett.         [ Links ]

Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered assumptions: Towards a new psychology of trauma. New York, NY, US: Free Press.         [ Links ]

Kaslow, F. W. (2004). Death of one's partner: The anticipation and the reality. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35(3), 227-233.         [ Links ]

Kierkegaard, S. (1849/1980). The sickness unto death. (H. Hong & E. Hong, Trans.) Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press        [ Links ]

Klass, D., Silverman, P. R., & Silverman, N. L. (1996). Continuing bonds: New understandings of grief. Washington, DC: Taylor Francis.         [ Links ]

Kruse, A., Vinther, P. J., & Byrialsen, M. N. (2007). At vœre i Sorg [To be Grieving].         [ Links ] Copenhagen, Denmark: Aalborg Universitet.

Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families. New York, NY: McMillan Co.         [ Links ]

Kvale, S., & Brinkmann, S. (2009): Interview: Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing (2nd ed). London, United Kingdom: Sage.         [ Links ]

Langdridge, D. (2007). Phenomenological psychology: Theory, research and method. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education.         [ Links ]

Leick, N., & Davidsen-Nielsen, M. (1990). Healing pain: Attachment, loss and grief therapy. New York, NY, US: Tavistock/Routledge.         [ Links ]

Lindemann, E. (1944). Symptomatology and management of acute grief. American Journal of Psychiatry, 101, 141-148.         [ Links ]

Lydall, A. M., Pretorius, G., & Stuart, A. (2005). Give sorrow words: The meaning of parental bereavement. The Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, 5(1) 12 pp.         [ Links ]

Macquarrie, J. (1972). Existentialism. New York, NY: Penguin.         [ Links ]

Merleau-Ponty, M. (1945/1962). Phenomenology of perception (C. Smith, Trans.). London, United Kingdom: Routledge.         [ Links ]

Parkes, C. M. (1972). Bereavement studies on grief in adult life. Harmondsworth, United Kingdom: Penguin.         [ Links ]

Polkinghorne, D. E. (1989). Phenomenological research methods. In S. V. Valle & S. Halling (Eds.), Existential-phenomenological perspectives in psychology: Exploring the breadth of human experience (pp. 41-60). New York, NY: Plenum Press.         [ Links ]

Reiniche, K. (2006). Rapport om forsknings- og praksiserfaringer vedr0rende mœnd i krise.         [ Links ] [Report on men in crisis: Research and practical experience] 29 pp. Retrieved 11 August 2010 from rapporten_kr.PDF

Ricoeur, P. (1984). Time and narrative (Vol. 1) (K. McLaughlin & D. Pellauer, Trans.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.         [ Links ]

Ricoeur, P. (1985). Time and narrative (Vol. 2) (K. McLaughlin & D. Pellauer, Trans.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.         [ Links ]

Ricoeur, P. (1987/1991). Life: A story in search of a narrator. In M. Vlades (Ed.), A Ricoeur Reader (pp. 425-437). Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.         [ Links ]

Ricoeur, P. (1988). Time and narrative (Vol. 3) (K. McLaughlin & D. Pellauer, Trans.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.         [ Links ]

Ricoeur, P. (1992). Oneself as another [K.         [ Links ] Blamey, Trans.]. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Sánchez, J. R. (2005). Revisiting Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004): Pastoral and clinical implications of the death and dying stage model in the caring process. Unpublished manuscript, Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico.         [ Links ]

Sanders, C. M. (1999). Grief - the morning after (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons.         [ Links ]

Scarry. E. (1985). The body in pain: The making and unmaking of the world. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.         [ Links ]

Schulz, R., & Aderman, D. (1974). Clinical research and the stages of dying. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 5(2), 137-143.         [ Links ]

Sheikh, A. I., Marotta, S. A. (2005). A cross-validation study of the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory. Measurement and Evaluation in Counselling and Development, 38, 66-77.         [ Links ]

Smith, L. P. (1907). The life and letters of Sir Henry Wotton. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.         [ Links ]

Spaten, O. M., & Byrialsen, M. N. (2009, January). Bereavement among Danish men at loss. Paper presented at Network for Research on Men and Masculinity: Changing Men and Masculinity in Equalized Society (NeMM), Roskilde University, Denmark.         [ Links ]

Stroebe, M. S., Hansson, R. O., Schut, H., & Stroebe, W. (Eds.). (2008). Handbook of bereavement research and practice: Advances in theory and intervention. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.         [ Links ]

Stroebe, M. S., & Schut, H. (2005). Meaning making in the dual process model of coping with bereavement. In R. A. Neimeyer (Ed.), Meaning reconstruction & the experience of loss (pp.55-73). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.         [ Links ]

Stroebe, M., Stroebe, W., & Schut, H. (2001). Gender differences in adjustment to bereavement: An empirical and theoretical review. Review of General Psychology, 5(1), 62-83.         [ Links ]

Stroebe, W., & Schut, H. (2001). Risk factors in bereavement outcome: A methodological and empirical review. In M. S. Stroebe, R. O. Hansson, W. Stroebe, & H. Schut (Eds.) Handbook of bereavement research: Consequences, coping and care (2nd ed.) (pp. 349-371). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.         [ Links ]

Stroebe, W., & Stroebe, M. S. (1987). Bereavement and health - the psychological and physical consequences of partner loss. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.         [ Links ]

Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2005). Target Article: "Posttraumatic Growth: Conceptual Foundations and Empirical Evidence". Psychological Inquiry, 15(1), 1-18.         [ Links ]

Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2006). Time of change? The spiritual challenges of bereavement and loss. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 53(1-2), 105-116.         [ Links ]

Thorne, S. (2008). Data analysis in qualitative research. In N. Cullum, D. Ciliska, R. B. Haynes & S. Marks (Eds.), Evidence-based nursing: An introduction (pp. 93-100). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.         [ Links ]

Tillich, P. (1952). The courage to be. New Haven, MA: Yale University Press.         [ Links ]

Van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. Albany, NY: The State University of New York Press.         [ Links ]

Worden, J. W. (1982). Grief counselling and grief therapy. New York, NY: Springer Publishing.         [ Links ]

Yalom, I.D. (1980). Existential psychotherapy. New York, NY: Basic Books.         [ Links ]



Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License