Grieving Together: Dyadic Trajectories and Reciprocal Relations in Parental Grief After Child Loss
Facing Death: Familial Responses to Illness and Death
ISBN: 978-1-80382-264-8, eISBN: 978-1-80382-263-1
Publication date: 16 June 2022
Purpose: The death of a child can elicit enduring and intense parental grief. Additionally, as parents are both confronted with the loss of their child, interpersonal processes come into play. This study aimed to examine the change in reported levels of grief among bereaved parents individually and at a couple-level. The authors examined the differences in grief trajectories between mothers and fathers and whether the reported level of grief of one partner predicts the other partner’s reported level of grief.
Design/methodology/approach: Our longitudinal study included 229 bereaved couples who completed the Inventory of Complicated Grief at 6, 13, and 20 months post-loss.
Findings: A latent growth curve analysis showed that parents reported consistently high average grief levels, mothers reported higher grief levels than fathers, and all parents reported a similar small decline in grief. A cross-lagged panel analysis showed that the grief of one parent affected the grief of the other parent with similar strength. Our results held regardless of the child’s gender and age, but an expected loss was associated with a lower grief level 6 months post-loss and a smaller decline in reported levels of grief.
Originality/value: These findings highlight bereaved parents as a particularly vulnerable population, increase our understanding of change in parental grief over time and of the interdependence of grieving in bereaved couples.
Buyukcan-Tetik, A., Albuquerque, S., Stroebe, M.S., Schut, H.A.W. and Eisma, M.C. (2022), "Grieving Together: Dyadic Trajectories and Reciprocal Relations in Parental Grief After Child Loss", Scott, C.L., Williams, H.M. and Wilder, S. (Ed.) Facing Death: Familial Responses to Illness and Death (Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, Vol. 19), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 149-168. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1530-353520220000019005
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