Leslie A. Rill

Date of Award

Summer 10-4-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Communication



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 136 pages)


Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. On death and dying. 1969, -- Case studies, Online social networks -- Case studies, Bereavement -- Psychological aspects -- Case studies, Grief -- Social aspects -- Case studies.




With the widespread use of the Internet, grief has been extended in its representation. Specifically, social networking sites, like MySpace, have turned grief presentation from private expressions into public displays of mourning. This study utilizes the theoretical foundations of the grief presentation process of Kübler-Ross' (1969) five categories of bereavement (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) to determine whether the grief presentation process is present in an online setting. In this study, the researcher conducted an empirical investigation of 4,931 comments, resulting in 22,263 bereavement themes outlined by Kübler-Ross, which were condensed into 2,288 time-point comparisons posted to 140 MySpace profiles of users who have passed-on. Results revealed noteworthy practices surrounding grief presentation on the MySpace profiles of the deceased. Specifically, bereaved commenters post a significantly greater number of bereavement narratives in the first three months post-mortem as opposed to months four through six. Additionally, race and sex of the deceased, as well as sex of the bereaved, did not prove to be mitigating factors in online grief presentation. Moreover, across observed races and sexes, the bereavement category of acceptance was found most often, followed by depression, denial, anger, and bargaining. Findings suggest that post-mortem commenting behavior blends current memorializing practices while also extending the space for communication and grief presentation. Additional implications for understanding grief communication on MySpace and future directions for research conclude this study.

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