Israeli mothers' meaning reconstruction in the aftermath of homicide

Michal Mahat-Shamir*, Ronit D. Leichtentritt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study is the first to our knowledge to provide an in-depth account of the meanings reconstructed by bereaved Israeli mothers of homicide victims. Homicide survivors tend to receive little or no support from society; this is especially true in Israel, where homicide victims are a neglected population whose voice is socially muted. Constructivist theories have informed understanding of grief, emphasizing the role of meaning reconstruction in adaptation to bereavement, as well as the role of social support in the process of meaning reconstruction. We derived 3 prototypes of meaning from interviews of 12 bereaved mothers: The existential paradox; a bifurcated worldview; and oppression, mortification, and humiliation. Most informants used all 3 prototypes in the process of reconstructing meaning, describing changes in the perception of themselves, the world, and society. However, change was also accompanied by continuity, because participants did not abandon their former worldview while adopting a new one. The findings suggest that meaning reconstruction in the aftermath of homicide is a unique, multifaceted, and contradictory process. Implications for practice are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-475
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


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