Date of Conferral
Facing the death of a loved one is often a traumatic experience; when the deceased is one's own child, the loss may be the most stressful event of one's life. There has been very little research into the phenomenon of being a bereaved parent. This study is a phenomenological investigation into the lived experience of being a bereaved parent and whether resilience or recovery plays a role in how parents move through and eventually past such a loss to continue with their own lives. Previous research has indicated that adjustment to traumatic experiences can take multiple pathways or trajectories, depending on a variety of factors within the individual coping with the stressful event. This study involved an investigation into these pathways through the lived experiences of those who suffered the loss of a child, in an effort to determine whether resilience or recovery influenced a parent's ability to survive the death. Ten bereaved parents were interviewed to learn whether resilience or recovery affected their ability to cope and function in a healthy way despite the loss. These interviews were analyzed to determine whether there were common themes among unrelated bereaved parents, and whether they resonated with the concept of resilience or that of recovery. The results of this study indicated resilience to be a healthier method of adjustment for bereaved parents, with recovery being an almost offensive concept for those who participated. These results allow for a greater understanding of the lived experience of being a bereaved parent, as well as instruct those in helping professions in how best to serve bereaved parents who need to adapt to new lives that now proceed without the beloved child.