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Religions 2018, 9(8), 248; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9080248

A Qualitative Examination of Continuing Bonds through Spiritual Experiences in Individuals Bereaved by Suicide

1
Psychology, SIMEDHealth, LLC., 4343 West Newberry Road, Suite 2, Gainesville, FL 32607, USA
2
United Suicide Survivors International, 10122 Buena Vista Drive, Conifer, CO 80433, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 July 2018 / Revised: 14 August 2018 / Accepted: 16 August 2018 / Published: 20 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
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Abstract

Introduction: Suicide is a public health problem worldwide, and spiritual experiences may be important positive experiences or coping mechanisms for difficulties associated with surviving a suicide loss. Studies have found that continuing bonds through spiritual experiences are common among individuals bereaved by suicide. However, the literature lacks depth in understanding these experiences, such as sense of presence. Aims: The aim of this study was to qualitatively examine descriptions of continuing bonds through spiritual experiences after death by suicide. Method: A total of 1301 individuals bereaved by suicide provided 2443 free responses about their spiritual experiences based on four different prompts, which were analyzed using an inductive approach. Results: Nine common themes were identified, selected for interest, and reported: (1) a helpful sense of comfort; (2) a helpful sense of connection with the deceased; (3) intense sadness evoked by the spiritual experiences; (4) confusion regarding the spiritual experiences; (5) negative reminders of the deceased or negative meanings of spiritual experiences; (6) evidence of an afterlife; (7) general importance of the spiritual experiences’ meaning; (8) impact of and on religious beliefs; and (9) others’ responses to disclosure of suicide or spiritual experiences. Conclusion: For the overwhelming majority of participants, spiritual experiences such as a sense of presence have deep meaning and are often regarded as a positive source of healing and transformation after a suicide death. View Full-Text
Keywords: bereavement; postvention; spirituality; qualitative; continuing bonds; sense of presence; meaning-making; suicide bereavement; postvention; spirituality; qualitative; continuing bonds; sense of presence; meaning-making; suicide
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Jahn, D.R.; Spencer-Thomas, S. A Qualitative Examination of Continuing Bonds through Spiritual Experiences in Individuals Bereaved by Suicide. Religions 2018, 9, 248.

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