Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Family Therapy

Department

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy

Advisor

Christopher Burnett

Committee Member

Tommie Boyd

Committee Member

Anne Rambo

Abstract

The popular Social Networking Site, Facebook, offers its users the ability tocommunicate with others from all over the globe. Individuals can create a virtual identity for themselves enabling members to call, message, and locate others in a matter of seconds. The number of Facebook users appears to increase; yet, the number of members who die daily is not normally accounted. Facebook now permits the memorialization ofthe deceased’s profile. This allows members to continue commenting, sharing photos and videos, and visiting the deceased’s Facebook page. This trend led to the central question of this study, “What benefits, if any, are individuals receiving by utilizing Facebook status updates in order to cope with loss?” A gap in the literature exists pertaining to the creation of status updates for adults (25-64 years old) who have lost an immediate family member within the past year, as other studies have focused on adolescents’ and college students’ grieving processes on Facebook. As the principal investigator, I looked for what may or may not be different for individuals using Facebook status updates to cope after the loss of a loved one. I did so by interviewing seven participants, transcribing digital voice recordings, and using a grounded theory methodology to code and search for themes and patterns within the data. Participants were recruited using fliers, word of mouth, and emails sent to members of Nova Southeastern University. Findings from this study led to the discovery of the theory Social Grief after participants shared they received support, validation, and closure by using Facebook status updates to cope with the loss of an immediate family member.