Examining the experiences and support needs of bereaved parents after the death of a child during early adulthood from cancer
AffiliationThe Christie Hospital (Ms Law), Manchester; and Division of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, School of Health Sciences, University of Manchester (Dr Kirk), UK.
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AbstractBackground: Parents experience unique grief, which may be experienced differently by mothers and fathers. A lack of knowledge about the particular bereavement experiences of the parents of young adults exists. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate experiences and support needs of parents after the death of a child (aged 16-29 years) from cancer, exploring changes over time. Methods: The study used a Charmazian constructivist grounded theory approach. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 11 parents (7 mothers and 4 fathers) purposefully sampled and bereaved between 15 months and 7 years. Data were analyzed inductively using the constant comparative approach for category development. Results: "Living with continual loss" emerged as the core category central to parents' experiences of bereavement. Feelings of continual loss were compounded by parents' lack of information ("grieving in the dark") and a perceived lack of understanding from families and friends ("grieving alone"). Parents discovered strategies to manage the feeling of loss: "changing routines," "preserving the meaning of home," "maintaining memories and presence," and "sharing experiences." Conclusions: This is the first study focusing solely on the experiences and support needs of bereaved parents of young adults who have died of cancer. Parents live with a continual sense of loss irrespective of the length of bereavement, and a lack of bereavement information and empathetic emotional support can exist. Implications for practice: The need for improved information giving and development of peer support for bereaved parents has been identified. Cancer centers have a continuing role in developing and providing this support.
CitationLaw K, Kirk S. Examining the Experiences and Support Needs of Bereaved Parents After the Death of a Child During Early Adulthood From Cancer. Cancer Nursing. 2021 Aug 31;Publish Ahead of Print.