The Experiences of People whose Partners have taken their own Lives: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Melanie Jane, Hodgkinson
Rationale and Aims: Grief research has highlighted the difficult reactions experienced by people bereaved by suicide, with studies also looking at the importance of sense and meaning making. There is limited research looking at experiences of individual kinships, for example partners of people who have taken their own lives. The current study therefore aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of people who have lost a partner to suicide, using a qualitative approach. The research sought to explore the following:What are the experiences of people whose partners have taken their own lives and how do people experience trying to make sense and meaning of their partner’s death? Method: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with seven participants (two men) who had lost their partner to suicide more than two years previously. Verbatim transcripts of the interviews were then analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results: The analysis produced four master themes, including: “Pervasive impact of loss – “oh god, its such a disaster”; “The search for understanding – “There are so many questions that are unanswerable, like ‘why’?”; Challenges and ways of coping – “All the challenges they just come daily, hourly, minute by minute”; and, “Looking to the future – Its been a turning point for me, and a catalyst for change”. A description of these master themes and the related subordinate themes is presented. Conclusion: The results of the analysis are considered in light of existing theory and their clinical implications.