Objective: The study investigated previous research findings and clinical impressions which indicated that the intensity of grief for parents who had lost a child was likely to be higher than that for widows/widowers, who in turn were likely to have more intense reactions than adult children losing a parent.
Method: In order to compare the intensities of the bereavement reactions among representative community samples of bereaved spouses (n = 44), adult children (n = 40) and parents (n = 36), and to follow the course of such phenomena, a detailed Bereavement Questionnaire was administered at four time points over a 13-month period following the loss.
Results: Measures based on items central to the construct of bereavement showed significant time and group differences in accordance with the proposed hypothesis. More global items associated with the construct of resolution showed a significant time effect, but without significant group differences.
Conclusions: Evidence from this study supports the hypothesis that in non-clinical, community-based populations the frequency with which core bereavement phenomena are experienced is in the order: bereaved parents > bereaved spouses > bereaved adult children.