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Traumatic loss and grief: individual and sociocultural aspects- place for one or two PhD students

Chair group

Humanist chaplaincy studies for a plural society 
You can also have a look on the Dutch website.


prof. dr. Geert Smid, Endowed professor of psychotrauma, loss, and grief after disasters and violence

Short introduction into the research field

ChairHumanist Chaplaincy studies for a Plural Society
Supervisors Prof. dr. Geert Smid

Field of Research:  Traumatic loss and grief: individual and sociocultural aspects

Traumatic loss of loved ones can unleash powerful emotions that influence thinking and behavior patterns among individuals, families, and communities. Meaning attribution following loss is related to circumstances of the death, individual, social, and cultural factors, and factors related to the relationship with the deceased. Meaning attribution following the loss may be adaptive and contribute to individual, family and community resilience. However, maladaptive thinking and behavior patterns may predispose to mental health problems and/or contribute to the development of cycles of violence. Therefore, research into individual, cultural, and social aspects of traumatic loss and grief may contribute to improving spiritual and mental health care. 

To increase insight in this area, mixed method approaches are needed, evaluating both qualitative and quantitative data. Research questions may address a variety of specific populations and contexts. A few examples are listed below.

Currently, the care for bereaved people who seek help following the traumatic loss of a loved one is scattered across many disciplines, such as spiritual and mental health care providers and social workers. There is a need for an integrated network of care for traumatic grief. A first step towards integrating care is mapping different care providers and elucidating their roles in providing grief care.

A special case is palliative mental health care, e.g., for people with a granted request for euthanasia. What concepts of a good death are employed? What rituals and interventions are employed to support patients with a granted euthanasia request and their loved ones?

A very different, complex situation in which sociocultural and individual aspects determine grief reactions arises in the context of radicalization. If a family member disappears following a process of radicalization, how do those left behind grieve their loss and how may they be supported?

Examples of research questions

• Exploring the current practice and potential future perspectives of mental health care and spiritual care for traumatic grief

• Charting end-of-life care, rituals, and concepts of good death in care providers involved in palliative care for people with mental disorders

• Aspects of grief in relatives left behind following radicalization: social stigma, ambiguous loss, and disenfranchised grief

Place for:

 one or two external PhD student s

Contact and information


Supervised by profesor Geert Smid.