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Grief process and support systems for military widows

APA Citation:

McCullough, A. J., Likcani, A., & Hartenstein, J. L. (2023). Grief process and support systems for military widows. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 35(2), 155-178. https://doi.org/10.1080/08952833.2023.2210940

Abstract Created by REACH:

Through the lens of feminist theory and using a trauma-informed approach, this study sought to understand the experiences of young military widows. 4 military widows were interviewed about the loss of their husbands and how their support systems helped them manage this loss. Themes captured widows’ experiences of the notification of their husband’s death, the individualized process of navigating loss and grief, and the role of social support.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Air Force
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)


Qualitative Study


McCullough, Amanda J., Likcani, Adriatik, Hartenstein, Jaimee L.


This qualitative study aimed to give voice to young military widows through a phenomenological approach using a feminist lens. The researchers interviewed four young military widows and explored how they experienced the sudden traumatic loss of their spouse, the supports they utilized to cope with their loss, and their perception of the supports they used. There were four major themes that emerged through participant interviews: 1) notification process; 2) response to the notification of the sudden traumatic loss of their husband; 3) finding own path from grief to healing; and 4) support systems utilized during the healing process. Some supports were perceived as effective, and others were perceived as ineffective. All the military widows who participated in this study went through a very individualized healing process after the loss of their spouse and utilized a variety of supports to heal. Findings from this study have clinical implications unique to military widows and families regarding life transitions following the loss of their partner and factors that can impact their mental health.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Human Services, University of Central Missouri, AJM
Department of Human Services, University of Central Missouri, AL
Department of Human Services, University of Central Missouri, JLH


grief, widow, support system

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  September 2023

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