The quiet room. A narrative analysis of elderly widowed people's perspectives of loneliness.

by Nicola Davies-Kelly

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: Loneliness; Widowhood; Ageing; NewZealand
Record ID: 1298565
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5437


This thesis is the culmination of a Doctoral research project undertaken through the Postgraduate Nursing Department, Otago University. The aim was to retell the story of the experience of loneliness from the perspectives of older widows and widowers living in the wider Christchurch area of New Zealand. Interviews were undertaken 20 widows and 20 widowers. The transcripts underwent a process of coding and narrative analysis. The themes identified within the narratives were developed into a collective story that described loneliness from the perspective of widowhood. The story followed a trajectory that began with an event or a change in lifestyle (widowhood) which was ascribed meaning by the individual. This precipitated an emotional response, specifically loneliness. As the story progressed, the process of renegotiating self-identity following bereavement was described. Loneliness was influenced further by the personal experience of physiological change, namely ageing, and the impact of societal expectations. The final stage of the collective story revealed a continuum of integration and adjustment to loneliness through adaptive and maladaptive coping responses, both informal and formal. Cultural influences shaped personal coping strategies and the perception of formal support.