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Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology

Committee Chair

Maryka Biaggio, PhD

Second Advisor

Sheila Bob, PhD


A substantial body of literature supports the notion that experiencing the loss of a loved one often results in psychological distress. It has also been suggested that the construction of meaning in response to loss in a key variable in the bereavement process. As the number of deaths from AIDS continues to grow, it seems likely that the psychological impact of the experience of multiple loss will also grow. Given epidemiological patterns of the AIDS epidemic, gay men have experienced the largest number of losses of any sector of the population. The present study explored the construction of meaning in response to multiple loss among HIV positive gay men. A phenomenological methodology was employed with four subjects who had lost at least one significant other and a close friend within the two years prior to this study. Data analysis revealed both common meanings among subjects and idiosyncratic meanings. In addition, the experience of ill health was found to impact the nature and salience of meaning structures that were developed in response to multiple losses.