Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Mothers of murder victims-Case studies, Mothers of murder victims-Psychology, Social action-Psychological aspects, Family violence-Prevention, Grief, Mental healing, Adjustment (Psychology), Guilt, Traumatic loss, Stigmatized grief, Posttraumatic growth


This research examined the role of social activism as an adaptive coping mechanism for reestablishing internal congruence and restored equilibrium in the aftermath of traumatic loss. It also sought to determine whether engagement in public action offered therapeutic benefits to homicide survivors distinct from cognitive or traditional therapies and could therefore serve as an effective adjunct therapeutic modality for psychic repair. A single case study method was utilized as the study design: it served as an excellent framework for investigating if devastating loss becomes better integrated into the self and/or if a sense of wellbeing is regained when grief is acted upon through action. This particular case study explored a specific individual's narrative of reconstruction post-homicide and examined both the process of converting private grief into public action, and the reparative value of doing so. The research design enabled the researcher to consider the breadth of the phenomena and expand on knowledge regarding how homicide survivors find meaning in a life radically altered by violent death and the process through which they make therapeutic use of social action. The dominant themes emerging from this study include traumatic loss as a unique bereavement experience, stigmatization of grief, positive or transformational growth post-loss, continuity or creating a future with the beloved deceased, and making the death meaningful.




iii, 103 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 85-92)