Grieving the Living: The Social Death of Former Jehovah's Witnesses


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Addressing a relative lack of research investigating the experiences of individuals who have left the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW), the current works draws on the social identity approach to examine qualitatively, the process of transitioning towards post-JW life, experiences of ostracism and perceived threats to self-identity. Semi structured interviews were carried out in the homes of six former JWs and transcripts were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Narratives suggest that experiences of ostracism following religious exit can be associated with diminished mental health, while having a sense of agency and establishing new (online) social connections may help mitigate adverse consequences. Implications and future research directions are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberJORH-D-20-00531R1
Pages (from-to)1-39
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Early online date19 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2021


  • Jehovah's Witnesses
  • ostracism
  • identity
  • self-esteem
  • mental Well-being

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