“Grief is very difficult to articulate,” Gabrielle says, empathizing with participants. She welcomed participants’ various modes of expression and acknowledged that there are many different ways of working through the emotions. “Some participants shared lyrics and poems to express the ways they have embodied grief. These lyrics and poems captured something that they couldn’t quite articulate themselves,” she says.
She points out that expressions of grief can transcend typical Western ways of knowing that focus on mental models, “That’s because we don’t process grief just through the mind. Our experiences are also embodied and somatic.” Feedback from the participants showed that they enjoyed sharing their stories and using photography as a creative means to share their grief journey.
One of the most intriguing findings of Gabrielle's study is the transformative power of grief in the lives of emerging adults.
Navigating the non-linear journey of grief
Gabrielle's research has yielded insights into the journey of grief experienced by young adults who have lost a friend to suicide. Her findings have led her to challenge the conventional wisdom that grief adheres to a linear progression, moving from denial to acceptance in a set sequence. While the five stages of grief have been widely popularized, her findings affirm that grief does not follow a predictable or linear path, but instead takes its own unique form in each individual's life.
“Grief isn’t timebound or linear,” Gabrielle observes, “It is dynamic: it ebbs and flows, and evolves over time as well.” For some, grief can become a lifelong companion, with it making its presence known in different ways over time.
Young adults, who are the subject of Gabrielle’s study, sought to honour their grief through meaningful ways, which researchers call “continuing bonds”. These include tattoos, bracelets, talking about the deceased, and watching movies they previously watched with their deceased friend. These are some of the ways that suicide loss survivors stay connected to their friend after the loss.
Transformative power of loss
One of the most intriguing findings of Gabrielle's study is the transformative power of grief in the lives of emerging adults. Having experienced a profound disruption in their lives, research participants reveal that they have undergone a shift in their perceptions of themselves, others, and the world at large.
“They have re-learned how to live in their world after experiencing first-hand how fragile life can be,” Gabrielle observes, “They have discovered a new way of living that acknowledges loss can happen any moment.” She adds that while this personal growth and transformation can be seen as a benefit, it is also a benefit that is deeply intertwined with sadness.
A unique blend of research and counselling training
As a graduate student and researcher at TWU, Gabrielle's journey has been marked by invaluable support and transformative experiences. Having completed undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario, Gabrielle came to TWU to pursue a Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology. She has appreciated TWU's unique blend of research and counselling training.
The faculty at TWU, with their diverse perspectives and student-centered approach, have played a pivotal role in shaping Gabrielle's journey.
The faculty at TWU, with their diverse perspectives and student-centered approach, have played a pivotal role in shaping Gabrielle's journey. Earlier this year, Gabrielle presented at
TWU’s Three Minute Thesis competition, where she shared her research before an audience of staff, faculty, and fellow students, and received public speaking coaching throughout process. “I’ve loved my program,” Gabrielle says, “I’ve learned a lot about research and have felt very supported.”
In addition to being supported academically, Gabrielle’s internship and clinical work has brought her in touch with people in the grieving process. “Being able to apply thesis research learnings into clinical practice and vice versa has been incredibly beneficial to my learning.” As her research nears completion, she looks forward to sharing how her findings can contribute to the ongoing development of grief support for young adults who are bereaved by suicide.
See also: Upcoming TWU CREATE Conference celebrates innovative research
About TWU's Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology
The Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology (CPSY) program provides a quality learning experience for those seeking employment in counselling and related fields. Graduates are equipped to work professionally in a variety of settings or to pursue doctoral studies in counselling or clinical psychology. Our graduate-level master of counselling program is fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counsellor Education Programs CACEP. Learn more at
TWU's Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology.
About Research at TWU
TWU researchers are award-winning professors, nationally recognized educators, and intellectually engaged students. Together, they are enriching our programming, contributing to society, and revealing the necessity of faith integration in research. Learn more at
About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is a global Christian liberal arts university. We are dedicated to equipping students to discover meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. Drawing upon the riches of the Christian tradition, seeking to unite faith and reason through teaching and scholarship, Trinity Western University is a degree-granting research institution offering liberal arts and sciences as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four locations in Canada: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. Learn more at
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