Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study examined the ways survivors of homicide victims make meaning in the aftermath of homicide as a part of the post loss coping process. The particular focus of the study were survivors of Color because communities of Color experience higher numbers of homicides than Whites. Meaning making was conceptualized through the theory of assumptive structure and the conceptualization of meaning proposed by Janoff-Bulman and Frantz (1997) by distinguishing between meaning as significance and meaning as comprehensibility. Twelve survivors of homicide victims from Massachusetts, ten of them people of Color, were recruited through the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, Dorchester, MA. The participants were interviewed about the meaning, if any, that they attributed to their loss as such, as well as about how they find meaning in their life after the loss. The findings of the study showed that meaning making seems to be an important part of survivors' experience after the loss of a family member to homicide. The prevalent ways of meaning making were: adjustment of the assumptive structure, benefiting from the experience (meaning as significance) and finding meaning through action. Religious beliefs appeared to assist survivors in finding meaning.


iii, 70 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 62-64).