Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Communication Studies

First Advisor

Mary Claire Morr Serewicz, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Erin Willer

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Suter

Fourth Advisor

Michele Hanna


Dyadic analysis, Family communication, Family loss, Mixed methods, Relational turbulence model, Theory of motivated information management


Research on familial loss has centered individualized experiences with grief, constructing a disconnect between family members that works to weaken interdependence and create additional coping challenges. Through a family systems lens, the current study explored family loss from a relational perspective, centering the parent-child experience as a unique and conflictual one. Drawing from the Relational Turbulence Model (RTM) and the Theory of Motivated Information Management (TMIM), this work used actor partner interdependence models (APIM) to test a dyadic and integrated model that centered relational experiences with uncertainty, interference, and information management for 29 bereaved parent-child dyads. Further, to understand more about how lived experience of family loss relate to quantitative measures, this study incorporated a convergent mixed methods design, and used analysis of variance to identify connections between interval variables and themes that arose from a qualitative thematic analysis.

Findings from this study extended knowledge of family loss on theoretical and conceptual levels. Theoretically, the quantitative analysis revealed connections between the RTM and the TMIM, and identified both actor and partner effects related to uncertainty, interference and information management that help to further recognize the importance of exploring death from a family perspective. Conceptually, the qualitative analysis revealed that bereaved parents and children face unique challenges related to uncertainty and interference, and further that their information management goes beyond an open/closed binary. Taken together, the analysis worked to improve current knowledge of family loss by extending how death is defined and studied, and in doing so expanded the reach of the field of family communication by revealing the potential of dyadic and mixed methodological approaches.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Veronica Anne Droser


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

227 p.



Included in

Communication Commons