Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Gwenyth Hood

Second Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


Death is an integral part of the life cycle and is perhaps the most dreaded and avoided issue in modem society. While our technologically advanced society has been able to delay death, it has not been able to avoid it. Death strikes indiscriminately and often without warning. Persons in medieval society also faced the inevitability of death, which despite the high mortality rate due to poor medical care and the recurrence of the plague, was not any easier to confront and understand. Throughout the centuries, individuals who lose friends and loved ones experience denial, rage and depression, which are all psychological symptoms of grief. Grief has been acknowledged as a byproduct of personal loss throughout the centuries by the medieval Catholic church and in the 20Ib century by modern psychoanalysis. Neither institution has been adequate in assisting the bereaved through this period simply because grief is a personal issue and cannot be explained sufficiently to help that person cope with their loss. Grief had always been acknowledged by the church and modem psychology, but more as a natural reaction to the death of a loved one and not as a estranged state of mind. The first recognition of grief symptoms as a psychological and medical condition came from Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 ground-breaking work On Death and Dying. In this book, she describes the stages of grief reaction—shock/denial, searching/yearning, disorganization and reorganization and recognizes that grief is a progressive state that can lead to new spiritual growth for the bereaved.


Pearl (Middle English poem).

English poetry – Middle English, 1100-1500 – History and criticism.

Grief in literature.

Death in literature.