Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Julie Dodge, DMin

Second Advisor

Daniel Brunner, DPhil


Grief is a natural and normal experience reaching back to the narrative of creation. Research has revealed that about 80 to 90 percent of grievers experience normal or uncomplicated grief while a small percentage ranging from 10 to 20 percent struggled with complicated grief responses. This small percentage is the focus of this dissertation. Those who experience complicated grief are observed to become stuck and unable to move through the grieving process independently. Grievers who are stuck appear to have on-going difficulty in their spiritual, emotional, cognitive, and even physical health. The uniqueness of grief is not only real with an individual, but it is profoundly rich throughout the history of humanity, with each culture having unique ways of mourning that are not always understood and appreciated by others outside the culture.1 Other names used for complicated grief include complicated mourning, abnormal grief, pathological grief, pathological bereavement, neurotic grief, and, more recently, traumatic grief.2 Some of the risk factors associated with complicated grief are one’s belief system, nature of the relationship, availability of resources, social support, and spiritual condition. Researchers have explored numerous treatment options to deal with complicated grief. Some of the interventions include grief education, support groups, group therapy, spiritual and religious coping, and individual counseling. In addition to these interventions, I have explored and am proposing a resilience protective factor to assist grievers who are stuck in complicated grief. Developing resilience in a grief support group will be the primary context of this work. I believe when individuals who are stuck in complicated grief seek out resources to cope with and activate resilience factors, they are more likely to engage in and move through the grief process toward a path of healing.

1 Joleen C. Schoulte, “Bereavement Among African American and Latino/a American,” Journal of Mental Health Counseling 33, no. 1 (January 2011): 11. 2 John S. Jeffreys, Helping Grieving People When Tears Are Not Enough: A Handbook for Care Providers. Series in Death, Dying, and Bereavement (New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2005), 264.

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Christianity Commons