Date of Award

5-2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies

Department

Holistic Health

First Advisor

Carol Geisler

Department/School

Holistic Health Studies

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic began in earnest in the United States in March 2020, and a slew of challenges came with the adjustment. Individuals felt the isolation of quarantine while grieving disenfranchised losses, losses that alienate the griever from the community, and social rules of grief such as canceled events, missing friends and family, and missing milestones at work or school. One place that was not closed to the public during the height of the pandemic was the outdoors. Nature is beneficial to mental, physical, and spiritual health. In this phenomenological study, we describe how being in nature helped adult disenfranchised grievers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a non-probability convenience snowball sample recruited through social media, 45 participants who identified as disenfranchised grievers due to COVID-19 pandemic and reported an increased amount of time outside during the pandemic shared up to five photos and had space to write a narrative about how their time in nature helped them address/heal from loss. We used Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to analyze the data. Narrative themes included the context of the pandemic, turning to nature for healing, and emotional, physical, social, and spiritual relief. In conclusion, participants had positive, transformational, affirming, and joyful experiences in nature that helped them make meaning of their disenfranchised grief during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study’s implications include a need for easier access to outdoor spaces, and the ability for practitioners, allopathic and holistic, to prescribe time outdoors to their patients. Implications for future research include disenfranchised grief, the impacts of indoor nature spaces, and comparisons of various natural settings on disenfranchised grievers.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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