University of Hertfordshire

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By the same authors

Reflections on Experiencing Parental Bereavement as a Young Person: A Retrospective Qualitative Study

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Documents

  • Angel Marie Chater
  • Neil Howlett
  • Gillian W. Shorter
  • Julia K. Zakrzewski-Fruer
  • Jane Williams
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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2083
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue4
Early online date13 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2022

Abstract

Background: It is estimated that approximately 41,000 children and young people experience the death of a parent each year. Grief responses, such as anxiety and depression, can follow. This research investigated the adult reflections of experiencing parental death as a young person.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with adults (N = 14; female n = 8) who experienced parental death as a young person, which occurred over 5 years ago (time since death, M = 12.9 years; age at death, M = 16.4 years; age at interview, M = 30.9 years). The data were analysed inductively using thematic analysis. Results: Seven themes revealed that parental bereavement can lead to (1) “Distance and isolation” and is an (2) “Emotional journey” with (3) a “Physical impact”. Many experienced (4) “Post-traumatic growth” but acknowledged that (5) “Life will never be the same”, highlighting the importance of (6) “Support and understanding” and triggers for (7) “Re-grief”.

Conclusions: Parental bereavement has significant emotional and physical consequences, but can also lead to personal growth. Talking therapies were rarely accessed, often due to a lack of awareness or desire to engage, revealing a translational gap between existing support services and uptake. Enabling open conversations about grief and identifying suitable support is a public health priority. This need has been amplified since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may be a trigger for grief empathy and re-grief in those who have already been bereaved.

Notes

© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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