Negotiating Grief through Work-Life Relationships: A Qualitative Analysis of Bereaved Employees' Emotional Constraints, Organizational Roles and Responsibilities, and the Intersections of Social Support at Home and Work on Adjustment following Loss

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The aim of this research was to better understand the experience of bereaved individuals following their return to work, and the ways in which they communicatively negotiate their relationships at

The aim of this research was to better understand the experience of bereaved individuals following their return to work, and the ways in which they communicatively negotiate their relationships at work and at home. One of the most salient facts of life is that everyone will all experience the death of a loved one. The amount, frequency, type, and recovery response for the bereaved may be vastly different, but inevitably everyone has to cope with death. Even though it is an integral part of life, the bereavement experience often is acknowledged as one of the most traumatic and stressful processes that occurs in individuals’ lives (McHorney & Mor, 1988; Miller & McGowan, 1997). In fact, roughly 5% of the workforce is affected by the passing of a close family member each year, and this number excludes those who experience the deaths of close friends (Wojcik, 2000). Evidence suggests that bereavement affects the physical and mental health of survivors, many of whom are in the workforce (Bauer & Murray, 2018; Hazen, 2003, 2008, 2009; Wilson, Punjani, Song, & Low, 2019). In order to explore how work-life roles are integrated into the lives of bereaved individuals, this dissertation qualitatively analyzed 36 interviews with bereaved employees (12), cohabitants (12), and coworkers (12). Through the use of procedural coding (Saldaña, 2009) and emergent codes, this dissertation answered the five posited research questions and their sub-questions. The results of this analysis have numerous implications for social support, emotion at work, grief, and bereavement leave policy. The following dissertation delineates the significance of this research, the literature review providing rationale for study of bereaved employees, qualitative methodological design, analysis of the data, and conclusions about bereavement and work-life relationships.