Parental grief following the death of an infant--a follow-up over one year

Scand J Psychol. 1991;32(3):193-207. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.1991.tb00869.x.


The course of parental bereavement during the first year following an infant's death was investigated. Also, the differences in mothers' and fathers' reactions, the differences according to the mothers' occupational role, and the similarities in couples' reactions were studied. From a total sample of 59 families, 13 families answered their questionnaires at all three time points (1, 6 and 13 months), 22 families responded at two time points, and 37 families responded at some point following the loss. Measures relating to anxiety, depression, bodily discomfort, general well being and impact of event were used at the three time points. The results showed that grief, as measured by the different inventories, decreased over time. The decrease was most evident from 6 to 13 months, and most prominent in women. A considerable number of the parents were still actively dealing with the loss all through the first year of bereavement. In most couples the mother reported most distress. Mothers were significantly more depressed than fathers at all time points, and mothers also had significantly higher anxiety and lower general health at 1 and 13 months, and intrusive scores of 1 and 6 months. Women at home evidenced more grief at all three time points than women employed outside the home. A high or low score in one spouse was more strongly correlated with a similar score in the other at 1 and 13 months, than at 6 months. The implications for counselling of parents, with special emphasis on the employment situation of the mother, is emphasized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gender Identity
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Personality Tests
  • Sudden Infant Death