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Standing in the Tragic Gap: Courage and Resilience in the Lives of Ordinary People Open Access


Other title
courage after suicide
Resilience after suicide
overcoming adversity
Type of item
Degree grantor
St. Stephen's College
Author or creator
Margaret Ellen Claveau, MPS
Supervisor and department
Dr. Phillip Behman
Examining committee member and department
Mary Norton
Dr. Jane Simington
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality
Degree level
The goal of this narrative inquiry was to gain an increased understanding of courage and resilience in the lives of ordinary people who have overcome adversity. The research question was, “What is the Lived Experience of Courage and Resilience in the Lives of Ordinary People who have Overcome Adversity?” The qualitative methodology of narrative inquiry was used to explore the lived experience of three ordinary people; Catherine, a woman in her eighties, survived the suicide of her first husband, and the tragic deaths of her son, son-in-law, and daughter. Lee, a woman in her early fifties, has been legally blind from age five. Mark, a young man in his mid-twenties, lost his older sister, a victim of incest, to suicide. The courage of each participant or co-creator was explored in a theological framework and resilience in a psychological framework. The narratives engage the reader in a manner that leads to a cognitive, and most importantly, a visceral understanding of courage and resilience. Participants readily admitted to being resilient. However, they were reluctant to admit to being courageous. It may be easier for people to identify with what they do than with who they are. Courage is a quality of the soul. Courageous people are humble. Ordinary people demonstrate courage through acceptance of what is and a fierce determination to live life to its fullest. Perhaps it is the very sacredness of courage that makes it difficult to admit to. The thesis has much to offer people who are supporting clients who may be “standing in the tragic gap”. The references, as well as the themes that were identified, will be useful to psychotherapists and others. They will be of interest to people who find themselves in a caring/supporting role.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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