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JSS 5.2

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JSS 5.2 Spiritual Beliefs and Meaning-Making within the Context of Suicide Bereavement

by Prof. Terry Lynn Gall, Counselling, Psychotherapy & Spirituality, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada
Mr Jesse Henneberry & Ms Melissa Eyre, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada
Journal for the Study of Spirituality 5, no. 2, 2015, pp. 98-112

This qualitative study explored the salience of spirituality in the lives of suicidally-bereaved individuals. Eleven bereaved individuals and four mental health workers were interviewed in depth on their subjective experience of suicide bereavement and on their experience of working with suicide bereavement, respectively. The suicide of a loved one had a significant impact on their spirituality. Bereaved individuals experienced difficulty reconciling the suffering and death of their loved one with specific religious views and a spiritual belief in a loving God. Spiritual struggles could lead to the loss of faith but more often led to the abandonment of a specific religious belief and a move towards a more personally-defined spirituality. Beliefs in an afterlife and continued bonds with loved ones hold promise in terms of helping bereaved individuals to find meaning in the suicide. Findings have implications for when and how mental health workers might address spirituality in the process of suicide bereavement.

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