Living through the death of a child: A qualitative study of bereaved parents’ experiences

Price, Jayne; Jordan, Joanne; Prior, Lindsay and Parkes, Jackie (2011). Living through the death of a child: A qualitative study of bereaved parents’ experiences. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 48(11) pp. 1384–1392.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2011.05.006

Abstract

Design
Cross-sectional qualitative study.

Data sources
Interviews with purposeful sample of 25 recently bereaved parents.

Methods
Semi-structured in-depth interviews.

Results
Four analytically distinct processes were identified in the responses of parents to the death of a child. These are referred to as ‘piloting’, ‘providing’, ‘protecting’ and ‘preserving’. Regardless of individual circumstances, these processes were integral to all parents’ coping, enabling an active ‘doing’ for their child and family throughout the trajectory of their child's illness and into bereavement.

Conclusions
Facilitating the capacity of parents to ‘do’ is central to coping with the stress and uncertainty of living through the death of a child. The provision of informational, instrumental and emotional support by health care professionals in the context of ‘doing’ is core to quality palliative care.

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