Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Author's Department

Family and Consumer Sciences

First Advisor

Michelle Sherwood

Abstract

In 2015 the Pew Research Center reported that 72% of adult Internet users are on Facebook and it continues to be the most used social networking site in the world (Duggan, 2015). Facebook is a source of social expression, connections, and support for others. It is becoming much easier to express feelings such as grief in an online setting. In fact, the online expression of grief has been found to empower individuals who feel that traditional grieving practices are ineffective (Carroll & Landry, 2010). The purpose of the current study was to explore the impact of social media (i.e. Facebook) on the individualized experience of grief, connections formed with other grievers online, and what motivates individuals to use social media as a grief outlet.

The Ware Facebook and Loss Questionnaire was distributed through Facebook to users at least 18 years of age that had experienced a loss or interacted with a loss through Facebook. Two hundred and three participants answered demographic and Facebook use questions as well as open-ended in-depth questions. The demographic and Facebook data were analyzed using frequencies. Qualitative data analysis led to one overall theme of support. Four other themes under support emerged including: social connectedness, contact with others, information handling, and memory sharing. Further research should include the use of face-to-face interviews. In addition, future researchers could expand the analysis to other social networking sites.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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