Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Cheryl-Anne Cait

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This thesis reports on the findings of a qualitative research study that explored role changes experienced by female adolescents after the death of a parent, with special attention paid to birth order. Seventeen women were recruited by convenience sampling for this study: nine were eldest daughters, three were middle daughters, and five were youngest daughters. All of the women lost a parent when they were between the ages of 11 and 17, and all were living at home with both parents at the time of the death. The findings were analyzed using a grounded theory method of coding (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). The findings highlighted that eldest daughters tended to take on a more supportive role with their surviving parent after the death, both emotionally and in day-to-day responsibilities. As well, the eldest female adolescent in the home often took on a caregiver role for younger siblings. It appeared that many of the women preserved the memory of the deceased parent through discussion and reflection with their siblings, and the eldest was often relied upon to remember stories of the deceased for younger siblings. Common themes across all birth orders included an increased feeling of independence and need for financial self-sufficiency by the women following the death.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season