Surviving grief: An analysis of the exchange of hope in online grief communities

Ruth Swartwood, Patricia M Veach, Jessica Kuhne, Hyun Lee, Kangting Ji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Online grief communities represent relatively new forms of peer support. However, the degree to which they are helpful for individual grieving processes is unknown. To date, no research has evaluated the type or quality of support exchanged in online grief communities. To begin to address these questions, this study analyzed 564 messages from internet grief websites to: (1) classify the type of helping skills used, and (2) extract themes contained in the content of the messages. Messages selected for analysis were the first response to an original post, assuming they would be the first effort to provide support to a grieving individual. Results revealed a majority of responses contained self-disclosure. Themes in the messages suggested provision of more than "one-way" support; messages themes also included exchanging hope for the future by sharing one's own story, validating the grief experience, providing resources, and exchanging psychosocial support. Clinical implications and research recommendations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-181
Number of pages21
JournalOmega: Journal of Death and Dying
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


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