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Cause of Death and the Quest for Meaning After the Loss of a Child

Cause of Death and the Quest for Meaning After the Loss of a Child This study examined patterns of making meaning among 155 parents whose children died from a variety of violent and non-violent causes. Findings indicated 53% of violent loss survivors could not make sense of their loss, as compared to 32% of non-violent loss survivors. Overall, there was overlap in sense-making strategies across different causes of death, with many parents invoking spiritual and religious meanings and the cultivation of empathy for the suffering of others. Nonetheless, violent loss survivors described the imperfection of the world and brevity of life more frequently in their narrative responses than parents who lost a child to natural causes, who in turn were more likely to find benefit in the loss in terms of personal growth. Violent loss survivors—and especially those losing a child to homicide—also reported enhanced appreciation of life more frequently than survivors of non-violent losses, and surviving a child's suicide was specifically associated with a change in priorities in the sample. Findings are discussed in terms of common and distinctive themes in meaning making that clinicians may encounter when working with parental bereavement, and the implications these carry for finding spiritual and secular significance in a traumatic loss. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Death Studies Taylor & Francis

Cause of Death and the Quest for Meaning After the Loss of a Child

32 pages

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References (61)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1091-7683
eISSN
0748-1187
DOI
10.1080/07481187.2012.673533
pmid
24520890
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This study examined patterns of making meaning among 155 parents whose children died from a variety of violent and non-violent causes. Findings indicated 53% of violent loss survivors could not make sense of their loss, as compared to 32% of non-violent loss survivors. Overall, there was overlap in sense-making strategies across different causes of death, with many parents invoking spiritual and religious meanings and the cultivation of empathy for the suffering of others. Nonetheless, violent loss survivors described the imperfection of the world and brevity of life more frequently in their narrative responses than parents who lost a child to natural causes, who in turn were more likely to find benefit in the loss in terms of personal growth. Violent loss survivors—and especially those losing a child to homicide—also reported enhanced appreciation of life more frequently than survivors of non-violent losses, and surviving a child's suicide was specifically associated with a change in priorities in the sample. Findings are discussed in terms of common and distinctive themes in meaning making that clinicians may encounter when working with parental bereavement, and the implications these carry for finding spiritual and secular significance in a traumatic loss.

Journal

Death StudiesTaylor & Francis

Published: Apr 1, 2013

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