How they died, time since loss, and bereavement outcomes

Omega (Westport). 2008;58(4):251-73. doi: 10.2190/om.58.4.a.


This analysis explores associations between differing death circumstances and the course of bereavement among a sample of 540 bereaved parents. Comparisons were made between parents whose children died by suicide (n = 462), those losing children from other traumatic death circumstances (n = 54), and others whose children died from natural causes (n = 24). Results were mixed, showing suicide survivors with more grief difficulties and other mental health problems on some criteria, though most findings showed no substantive differences between these subgroups. Results also showed, in the first years after loss, repeated suicide attempts and prior negative relationships with the decedent were associated with greater grief difficulties. However, as more time passed, all death circumstance differences were overshadowed by the importance of the time span since loss. This data also suggested that between 3 and 5 years usually marks the turning point, when acute grief difficulties accompanying a suicide loss begin to subside.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bereavement*
  • Child
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology