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Psychological sense of community and social support among college students who experience grief

McNally, Rachel Diane Smith
Researchers have found that 22 to 30 percent of students have experienced a death loss of a friend or close friend (Balk, 1997). Due to the unique environment of a university, further research is needed to understand how perceived social support, emotional closeness, and psychological sense of community are related to past and present grief in a college student population. The purposes of the present study were to explore the correlates and predictors of current and past grief behaviors in a sample of undergraduate college students. The relationships between and among perceived social support from friends and family, the duration (in months) since college students' death loss, their emotional closeness to the deceased person, and psychological sense of community, and their experiences of current grief and past grief behaviors were explored. One hundred and thirty-one undergraduate college students completed an online questionnaire. Results indicated a correlation between perceived social support with friends and family and psychological sense of community. Additionally, results showed a predictive relationship between emotional closeness, and past and present grief, and psychological sense of community being related to past grief. Follow up analyses indicated statistically significant group differences for White college students and college students of Color, with variables in White college students being predictors of grief and not in college students of Color. Study limitations, implications for theory and practice, and considerations for future research are discussed.