Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Communication Studies

First Advisor

Erin Willer

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Suter

Third Advisor

Mary Claire Morr Loftus

Fourth Advisor

Roddy MacInnes


Aging, COVID-19, Grief, Narrative, Photography, Women


The diverse array of challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic make it difficult to assess the full impact of this global health crisis. More than 300,000 older Americans died, leaving a nation of grieving survivors in their absence. This profound loss of life will undoubtedly inform the field’s understanding of grief and grieving for many years to come. Pre-pandemic, older women in the United States understood grief to be part of their life stage; COVID-19 amplified the grief experience through both cumulative losses and the isolation particular to the novel coronavirus response. However, few qualitative studies explore older women’s grief, and even fewer capture pandemic grief. The present study illuminated ways in which older women made sense of their losses during the pandemic. Through photography and qualitative interviews, I uncovered the stories behind the mortality statistics. Eleven themes emerged that offer insight into the grieving experience of older women in the United States: social isolation, fear of the virus, efficacy of support, efficacy of the healthcare system (HCS), multiple simultaneous losses/stressors, interpersonal conflict, political divide, delayed grief/rituals, gradual loss, responses to loss(es), and the presence of deceased. Findings offer important recommendations for theory and practice.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

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

Rights Holder

Anne Walker


Received from ProQuest

File Format



English (eng)


232 pgs

File Size

3.4 MB


Aging, Mental health