Parental Bereavement: Factors That Impact Healing

The loss of a child through death is one of the most traumatic experiences parents will ever have to endure. When adults are asked what loss they dread most, the majority will say that the loss they fear they could not survive is the death of a child. The purposes of this paper are to outline the unique factors that make parental bereavement an overwhelming assault on the individual, to learn more about the grief experiences of bereaved parents and to identify the factors that contribute to healing. The past decade has witnessed significant changes in bereavement theory and treatment approaches. Considerable attention has been given to the cognitive process involved in mourning, including new ways of looking at meaning and loss. Emerging from this literature review are five factors that contribute to healing for bereaved parents: (a) making meaning out of the loss, (b) the impact of the death on bereaved parents‘ beliefs and world views, (c) religion and spirituality, (d) cognitive styles, and (e) social support. The paper also discusses contributions of Adlerian Psychology to the study of bereavement.

Melody J. Richards
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