During 2013, approximately 87,000 parents in the U.S. experienced the death of a child to drug overdose, however we do not know how the experience affected the bereaved parents. From a theoretical perspective of social constructivism and symbolic interaction, this grounded theory study explored the grief experience of eight parents to understand the social influence on the grief experience and on the meaning ascribed to the child’s death. Data collection and analysis were consistent with constructivist grounded theory methodology that identified the assumptions and opinions that influenced how parents made meaning of the child’s death, and how they integrated the deceased child into their life in a way that fostered a new purpose. The emergent theory stated, “The ability of the bereaved to transform following the drug overdose death of their child was indicated by a process that brought meaning to the death in a way that honored the decedent and through the discovery of a purpose that ensured a continued and heartfelt relationship with the decedent prevailed.” Based on this theory, the resolution of grief benefited when the bereaved thought that they were making meaningful contributions, often accomplished by a transformed identity and a new purpose that promoted a decrease in the rate of drug overdose death and a reduction in the social stigma common to drug overdose death. Proposed solutions called for guidelines to assist physicians in the prescribing of opiates, promoted the availability of Naloxone to first responders and family members who could potentially save a life, and revisions to the Good Samaritan Law throughout the U.S. to encourage more individuals to call 911 for help in overdose situations. Recommendations for future research were included.
|Advisor:||Johnson, Kathleen F.|
|Commitee:||Samuel, Linda, Tucker, Saran|
|Department:||School of Public Service Leadership|
|School Location:||United States -- Minnesota|
|Source:||DAI-B 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social research, Social psychology, Counseling Psychology|
|Keywords:||Bereavement, Child death, Drug abuse, Social influence, Stigmatized death|
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