Previously, little research has been conducted on how bereaved parents describe interactions with support systems. In addition, friends and acquaintances may not know how to respond to those who are grieving; and they may make comments that are perceived as insensitive and hurtful to the bereaved. The purpose of the proposed qualitative research was to provide a deeper and clearer understanding of bereaved parents' experiences with members of support systems following the death of a child. The sample consisted of 10 parents, both mothers and fathers, who had experienced the death of a child. The data were collected through in-depth interviews of bereaved parents. Using a phenomenological approach, the interview included predetermined open-ended questions as a guideline. Audiotapes and careful field notes were used to document what was observed and heard during the interview. Each transcript was studied to gain an understanding of the data as a whole. Key words, phrases, and statements were highlighted and analyzed individually to develop a more precise understanding of individual experiences. Reflections and insights were synthesized individually and collectively into descriptive accounts. Both supportive and unsupportive behaviors were reported from nine major sources: friends, family, church, other bereaved parents, medical personnel, mental health professionals, work, law enforcement, and the media. Only one participant described receiving no support. Bereaved parents identified six sub-themes under the category of supportive: remembering, gifts, faith, daily activities, physical presence, and communication. The participants identified four sub-themes classified under the category of unsupportive: avoidance, hurtful comments, time, and pressure. The results showed that all populations could benefit from sensitivity training and education in working with bereaved parents. The results may be used for educating members of support systems on what comments and actions are both supportive and unsupportive for bereaved parents. Future research is recommended on the affects mental health professionals, law enforcement, medical personnel, and the media have on grieving parents. The research design may also be used in future studies to identify if there are differences in support among various cultures and racial groups.
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-B 72/02, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Behavioral psychology, Clinical psychology, Individual & family studies|
|Keywords:||Bereavement, Child loss, Death, Parental grief, Support systems|
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