Grieving the traumatic death of a child Book Section

Authors: Lichtenthal, W. G.; Corner, G. W.; Sweeney, C.; Roberts, K. E.
Editors: Black, B. P.; Wright, P. M.; Limbo, R.
Article/Chapter Title: Grieving the traumatic death of a child
Abstract: (from the chapter) The loss of a child is one of the most profoundly painful experiences a parent can endure. When the circumstances of the death are perceived as traumatic, the grief experience can become all the more excruciating and complex. Parents not only struggle with the loss of their cherished and beloved child but are also forced to grapple with the often incomprehensible, seemingly senseless, and violent circumstances of the death. How parents come to make meaning of their experiences plays a central role in adaptation. In this chapter, we give substantial attention to research, including our own, on meaning-making in bereaved parents. As we consider what constitutes a traumatic death, we acknowledge that what is considered traumatic is based on the perception and experience of the individual. This being said, traumatic deaths often tend to be the result of circumstances that are violent, sudden, or unexpected. This chapter, therefore, discusses bereavement by suicide, homicide, motor vehicle accident, or a sudden and unexpected medical complication. It also focuses on the experience of bereaved parents, though it is important to acknowledge that the traumatic death of a child often has devastating effects that reverberate throughout the entire family and community. We begin by describing research on parents' common reactions to the traumatic death of a child, as well as more impairing grief and traumatic stress responses. Next, we cover theoretical models through which we can view and understand reactions to a traumatic loss, including meaning-making and reconstruction, life transition theory, and continuing bonds theory. We then discuss physical health and mortality risks in traumatic bereavement and how the cause and circumstances of a child's death may influence the parent's bereavement experience. Pre- and postloss factors that may increase risk for negative bereavement outcomes are then described. Finally, we provide guidelines for health care and support providers and detail specific interventions for mental health clinicians working with traumatically bereaved parents. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved).
Keywords: health care; mental health care; grieving; bereaved parents; meaning-making; traumatic death
Book Title: Perinatal and Pediatric Bereavement in Nursing and Other Health Professions
ISBN: 978-0-8261-2926-0
Publisher: Springer  
Publication Place: New York, NY
Date Published: 2016-01-01
Start Page: 249
End Page: 285
Language: English
ACCESSION: Book: 2015-50976-014
PROVIDER: Ovid Technologies
PROVIDER: psycinfo
Notes: Book Chapter: 14 -- Black, Beth Perry [Ed ; Wright, Patricia Moyle [Ed ; Limbo, Rana [Ed -- xxii, 382 -- Source: PsycINFO