Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Counseling and Educational Leadership

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Catherine B. Roland

Committee Member

Dana Heller Levitt

Committee Member

Leslie Kooyman

Committee Member

Kathryn Herr


This is a qualitative study probing the lived experience of 11 individuals (Siblings of 9/11) who lost their siblings in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The study is grief-oriented with a focus on 1) the journey of 11 years from the initial tragedy and loss; 2) the grief process relative to such a publicized and memorialized event; 3) the ambiguous nature of the loss as it pertains to the Siblings of 9/11 and 4) the mean-making these individuals have established over their 11 year journeys.

Main findings: 1) Ambiguity in the grief process was quite common in the experience of the Siblings of 9/11 and was exacerbated by the public nature and intense scrutiny of 9/11. Ambiguity resulted largely from the absence of physical remains, the lack of conventional rituals that mark the reality of the death and the beginning of the time of mourning, and the loss of traditional resting places. 2) In the 11 years after 9/11, the siblings of 9/11 were aware of many points of connectedness and severance that necessitated the renegotiation of family roles, sources of support and the need to maintain a psychological bond to the deceased in the absence of a physical one. 3) As the Siblings of 9/11 moved through the grief process over the 11 years journey, they recognized that meaning-making and acceptance were intensely personal undertakings. In the final analysis, it was understood that there can be no definitive resolution to the grief process of the Siblings of 9/11.