Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication



Major Advisor

Laurel Traynowicz, Ph.D.


A relational dialectics perspective was adopted for this study in order to better understand the tensions and contradictions bereaved grandparents experience following the death of a grandchild. The interviews of eleven grandmothers and five grandfathers were analyzed using a qualitative/interpretive method, leading to implications regarding the nature of grandparent grief. Grandparents experienced tensions in their own grief and in their multiple roles within the family structure after a grandchild died. Grandparents expressed contradictions in their role as a stable supporter versus griever, as well as balancing the need for protection and privacy. Grandparents negotiated these tensions through conscious communicative choices such as monitoring self disclosure or grieving privately. The opportunity for grandparents to dialogue and share their grief experience was an integral part of the healing process.