Date of Graduation

Fall 12-12-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


School of Nursing and Health Professions



First Advisor

Diane Torkelson PhD, RN, CNL

Second Advisor

Mary Lou DeNatale EdD, RN, CNL

Third Advisor

Dina Silverthorne EdD, RN, CNL


Although grief itself is not a pathological condition, adequate support before and after loss can prevent grief becoming unresolved or complicated. Complicated grief (CG) is often diagnosed when severe bereavement symptoms persist over six months following a loss, and it affects an estimated 3-25% of the general population (Fujisawa, Kato, Miyashita, Nakajima, Ito, & Kim, 2010). Complicated grief can result in longstanding psychological issues such as depression and substance abuse.

One group that is at particular risk for CG is older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. This population is significantly represented in Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church (MHR) in San Francisco, California. Thus, a grief support program with special sensitivity to older gays was designed and implemented at MHR in 2013-2014.

The MHR program included one-on-one counseling, educational venues, healing rituals, and grief groups. Qualitative evaluations of all interventions revealed overwhelmingly positive outcomes. In a Likert scale survey, participants of one of the program’s educational events expressed significantly high satisfaction with this intervention. A structured six-week group was evaluated with a paired t-test of pre and post-test Comprehensive Bereavement Index (CBI) scores and a qualitative survey. Although the CBI results were not statistically significant, there was improvement in the pre and post-test results.

The lessons learned from this project will hopefully serve as a resource for MHR and for other faith-based and community programs. Most Holy Redeemer’s program has also allowed its facilitators to examine the wider psychosocial needs of MHR and its surrounding community.