This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Examination of the Role of Meaning in Posttraumatic Growth Following Bereavement




Aguirre, Maria

Type of Degree



Counseling Psychology
School Psychology
Counselor Education


A growing body of research indicates that some individuals who experience a traumatic event are able to experience posttraumatic growth, that is, experience positive changes as a result of surviving and coping with the traumatic event. This process of posttraumatic growth has been evidenced following a wide range of traumatic life events including bereavement. Of particular interest to this study were the cognitive processes related to meaning that have been associated with the process of post-traumatic growth, specifically, the relationships between making-making, cognitive coping strategies, and posttraumatic growth in individuals coping with bereavement. Factors such as the type of death experienced by their loved one and the amount of time elapsed since the death of loved one were also considered. The present study utilized online survey methodology in which 134 participants completed the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory PTGI), Sense of Coherence Scale (SOC), Purpose-in-Life Test (PIL), and Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (CERQ). The results yielded by regression analysis suggest that certain cognitive processes related to meaning and meaning-making, specifically, establishing a sense of coherence,searching for purpose and meaning in life, and some and cognitive coping strategies such as positive refocusing and positive reappraisal, were correlated with posttraumatic growth in bereaved individuals. The results also suggest that neither the time elapsed since the death, nor the type of death experienced (expected versus unexpected) impact the relationship between meaning-making and posttraumatic growth. These findings are consistent with the literature on posttraumatic growth and bereavement, namely, that cognitive coping processes characterized by active engagement play a critical role in the processes of adjustment, growth and transformation.