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Omega (Westport). 2007;55(2):145-67.

Patterns of parental bereavement following the loss of a child and related factors.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.


This study investigated the patterns of parental bereavement in 20 parents who have lost a child to cancer, congenital heart disease, meningitis, or drowning in the last 19 months, using semi-structured interviews and standardized questionnaires of depression and grief. Qualitative content analysis of interviews identified three bereavement patterns: The majority of parents (65%) presented uncomplicated, Integrated Grief five mothers were Consumed by Grief and one mother and one father expressed Minimal Grief. Quotes from parents exemplified these patterns. Parental gender, symptoms of depression, and pre-death relationship between parents and their deceased child differentially related to these patterns. Having surviving children, social support, and being active appeared to help to integrate grief into daily life. These findings illustrate differential patterns of parental bereavement and related factors, information that has important implications for identifying at-risk parents for complicated bereavement.

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