Abstract: Introducing the Concept of Markers in Time: The Experience of Temporal Triggers in the Context of Traumatic Loss (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

330P Introducing the Concept of Markers in Time: The Experience of Temporal Triggers in the Context of Traumatic Loss

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Leia Saltzman, PhD, Assistant Professor, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Background and Purpose.The bereavement literature has evolved dramatically over the last several decades; from linear stage models (Kubler-Ross1969; 2005), to non-sequential grief models (Worthington, 1994), to trajectories of adaptation that incorporate resilience (Bonnano, 2004). Yet the literature has not fully captured the lived experiences of bereaved individuals. More specifically, the unique experience of traumatic loss and the cyclical experience of bereavement that is uniquely tied to the subjective experience of time (Saltzman, 2019). The current study addresses this gap by exploring two important temporal elements in the process of coping with traumatic loss: (1) meaningful timeand (2) markers in time(Saltzman, 2019). Methods.The study takes a phenomenological qualitative approach. Participants were recruited using a snowball sampling technique. In depth face-to-face qualitative interviews were conducted with six participants who had experienced traumatic loss. Transcriptions of these interviews were analyzed using an iterative constant comparison analysis approach to identify large themes, categories, and subcategories that explore the process of adaptation following traumatic loss. Results.Two important themes emerged in the data: (1) the subjective nature of time – that is, participants acknowledged that the experience of time changes following traumatic loss, and that this change influences the process of adaptation; and (2) the existence of temporal triggers referred to as markers in time(Saltzman, 2019). Markers in timewere described as repeated and inevitable moments in time (e.g. significant date) that are attributed with special significance by the survivor, and are characterized as being intensely emotional and/or distressing. A tri-phasic experience of markers in timewas also highlighted by the data – that is participants identified an anticipatory period leading up to the markers, the marker itself, and a recovery phase following the marker. Conclusion and Implications.These findings support a deeper exploration into the lived experience of coping with traumatic loss using a temporal framework. More specifically, these findings introduce a new family of temporal factors that may be influential in understanding the cyclical process of coping with grief. These findings also reflect the experience of coping with traumatic loss in a time-informed framework using the words of survivors themselves. While the data are preliminary in nature, these findings suggest a deeper examination of the concepts of meaningful timeand markers intimeis warranted. This larger line of inquiry would result in a shift in the approach towards understanding and treating complex bereavement; more specifically that timemay be an important clinical tool that can be harnessed to tailor interventions and build resilience following traumatic loss.