Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work


Social Work


It is really a paradox that the most violent, traumatic death can lead to transformative growth. Increased resilience, and a new understanding of the value of relationships, assists bereaved in blending the loss of their loved one into their own understanding of what they want life to mean. This systematic review attempted to answer the question of whether resilience and growth can come from a traumatic death. To answer this, the review used empirically based, peerreviewed articles published after 1995. The search of academic journals and sites included, Social Work Abstracts, SocIndex, PsycInfo, and ATLA. Key words searched were, traumatic death, resilience, posttraumatic growth, complicated grief, and prolonged grief disorder, spirituality, and post-death meaning, meaning making, protective factors, death attitudes, and death and dying. Upon completion of the search, 18 articles met inclusion criteria and were used in this final review. Through the thematic analysis of the eighteen articles, five themes emerged that answered whether growth and resilience are possible following traumatic death; 1) violent and traumatic death increase risk of complicated or prolonged grief; 2) sense-making; 3) spirituality; 4) protective factors; 5) growth. The research seems to affirm that making meaning and resilience are intertwined. Traumatic loss, often triggers a reordering of life’s priorities, renewed appreciation of relationships, and integrating the deceased into their new world view. Further research is indicated to understand post-loss meaning-reconstruction and how that can be facilitated in a therapeutic setting.

Included in

Social Work Commons