Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Guyer, S. (2023). Bereavement: A Creative Exploration of Mourning and Loss. Undergraduate Honors Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Sarah Guyer 2023.


Grief remains a universal experience, felt by all, yet experienced individually. This thesis explores many nuances of the phenomenon of bereavement through creative contexts, supplementing character decisions, emotions, and actions with scholarly research. The author’s confronts the colloquial “truth” of grief—the appearance of “acceptable” time frames, the “stages” of the grieving process, the “right” way to grieve—with the way that grief is experienced in real lives. The research abounded with refutations of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief, which were written originally to indicate the grieving processes found in interviewees who had terminal diagnoses. Since Kubler-Ross’s On Death and Dying was published in 1969, the five stages model (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) has been misinterpreted by generations of readers. Kubler-Ross’s work was never intended to be scientific fact, nor applicable to grief writ large. Instead, modern researchers agree that grief is a highly individualized process, and while there are overlaps, such as the emotion of anger often experienced by those in grief, there is no predetermined “stage” or order in which emotions must be felt. The research also refutes stereotypes that further categorize grief along gender lines, calling into question the prevailing representations of gendered and structured grief in popular culture. Memoir writers have begun to confront this pervasive fount of misinformation by narrating their own experiences. This thesis adds itself to the ranks to begin providing additional representations of grieving persons whose experiences are influenced by contemporary scholarly research and personal exposure.