Bereavement Experiences of Mothers and Fathers Over Time After the Death of a Child Due to Cancer

Death Stud. 2012 Jan;36(1):1-22. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2011.553312.


The authors investigated longitudinally bereavement in mothers and fathers whose children died of cancer. Thirty-one parents were interviewed 6 and 18 months post-death. Analyses revealed parental differences and changes over time: (a) employment--fathers were more work-focused; (b) grief reactions--mothers expressed more intense grief reactions that lessened over time; (c) coping--mothers were more child-focused, fathers more task-focused; (d) relationship with bereaved siblings-mothers actively nurtured relationship with child; (e) spousal relationship--parents reported diversity in their relationship over time; and (f) relationship with extended family--mothers maintained contact with extended family more. Findings illustrate parental differences in bereavement over time that might be partly socially determined. These findings emphasize the need for tailoring bereavement support services in the family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Death
  • Bereavement*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Employment / psychology
  • Family Relations
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Young Adult