Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marriage and Family Therapy

First Committee Member

Katherine M. Hertlein

Second Committee Member

Stephen Fife

Third Committee Member

Gerald Weeks

Fourth Committee Member

Jason Holland

Number of Pages



Suicide is one of the most painful grief experiences that any family may experience. The suicide bereavement literature, though small, is replete with research that shows family and systemic impacts of suicide. The literature also includes constant calls for family- and systemic-based intervention as every part of society is impacted. Research in the field of marriage and family therapy, however, has ignored suicide and suicide bereavement almost entirely. The purpose of this qualitative study is to develop a more thorough understand of the grief that survivors of suicide experience and to systemically understand what helps and hurts the grieving process. Three helpful themes and three harmful themes emerged with eighteen sub-themes between them. Suicidal ideation and preoccupation was another prominent theme that did not fit entirely in either theme as it was seen as a way of maintaining a connection to the deceased and so is included on its own.


Bereavement; Grief; Grief therapy; Loss; Suicide; Suicide – Social aspects; Suicide victims; Survivors


Family, Life Course, and Society | Mental and Social Health | Psychology