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Göteborgs universitets publikationer

“Safe havens”. Online peer grief support and emotion regulation in coping with the loss of a close relative

Författare och institution:
Katrin Döveling (-); Ylva Hård af Segerstad (Institutionen för tillämpad informationsteknologi (GU)); Dick Kasperowski (Institutionen för filosofi, lingvistik och vetenskapsteori)
Publicerad i:
6th European Communication Conference (ECREA),
Konferensbidrag - refereegranskat abstract
Sammanfattning (abstract):
The loss of a close relative can be a devastating experience, sometimes plunging mourners into deep and intense grief. Furthermore, in most Western societies, a cultural avoidance of talking about death limits the possibilities for coping and adaptation (cf. Brotherson and Soderquist, 2002). It is here, where social media provide new opportunities for sharing and coping, enabling support and aiding in emotion regulation The overall aim of the present study was to analyse and compare international research findings from Germany and Sweden in terms of coping resources and emotion regulation in different online peer grief-support communities. More specifically, what differences or similarities exist? Can such differences and similarities be traced to types of loss, age of mourner, affordances of various online environment or norms for grieving and emotion regulation? Are there more general patterns or traits to be found transcending specific online communities? The study compared current the usage of five different online grief-support communities in Germany (4) and Sweden (1), using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The German data set focused on four different specifically designed bereavement networks, addressing different kinds of mourners. These were examined qualitatively as well as quantitatively in a two-step content analysis (N postings = 1032), generating insight into online-shared grieving processes. The Swedish data set focused on a closed group on Facebook for bereaved parents. Data consisted of a survey (N=54) and semi structured interviews (N=4) with members in the community, as well as continuous observation of patterns of interaction and content analysis of postings in the group. Despite differences in the compared communities’ composition, types of loss and affordances, as well as different methodological approaches, a common pattern of coping and support emerged. Users in both Germany and Sweden expressed a lack of social support or understanding of their needs offline. A common underlying need to communicate with peers who share similar loss and experience was emerged. Online support communities need to be understood as important resources for coping with grief and emotion regulation. The communities seem to complement and compensate for the lack of social support and insufficiency of the health care system by providing constant, immediate support from a large number of peers. By sharing their thoughts and emotions online, members learn vital aspects of coping with grief, and engage in active emotion regulation. Mourners also receive practical advice for everyday situations and on more philosophical, existential matters. In such a way, the communities offer safe havens in which the members can express their grief and all emotions involved. In both the German and the Swedish communities, data show that over time mourners evolve from ”takers” of support to ”givers” within their respective communities. Furthermore, the communities offer possibilities for the members to compare experiences, which seems to be a prerequisite for learning to cope with grief and emotion regulation. The implications of this study for both bereaved individuals and practitioners in health care are discussed.
Ämne (baseras på Högskoleverkets indelning av forskningsämnen):
Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap ->
Mänsklig interaktion med IKT
Annan humaniora
Ytterligare information:
6th European Communication Conference (ECREA). Mediated (Dis)Continuities : Contesting Pasts, Presents and Futures. 9-12 November 2016, Prague, Czech Republic.
Postens nummer:
Posten skapad:
2016-06-22 11:22

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