Factors Underlying the Relationship Between Parent and Child Grief

Omega (Westport). 2019 Nov;80(1):120-136. doi: 10.1177/0030222817726935. Epub 2017 Aug 24.


The death of a parent in a child's life is a significant risk factor for later mental and physical health problems. While much has been written about the surviving parent's functioning and its effects on their bereaved children, little work has been done to look into factors underlying this effect such as how the parent copes. The present study recruited 38 parent-child dyads from a community-based grief support center. Parent and child, independently, completed various measures of emotional functioning, including grief symptoms and coping such as social support and locus of control. The results indicated that parental coping did have an impact on children's grief symptoms. This represents a unique view of adaptation in bereaved children: Parental coping strategies can have an impact on the child, independent of the child's coping strategies. By focusing on parent coping, we have highlighted another possible pathway through which parental functioning affects children's grief.

Keywords: children’s grief; family functioning; parenting.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Counseling
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Social Support
  • Wisconsin