FAMILIES TALKING ABOUT THE DEATH OF A PARENT: An exploratory grounded analysis of themes and processes for families coping with the death of a father
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The Harvard Child Bereavement Study served to highlight the importance of considering bereaved children in the context of their social and family systems (Silverman & Worden, 1993 ). This study involved a grounded analysis of data from semi-structured interviews with members of four families who had experienced the death of a father within the previous 18 months. The four widows and four adolescents, each of whom had attended a grief support programme, were asked about their personal and family's experience of coping with their loss and bereavement. A systematic analysis identified six themes including the Impact on Family Life, Family Functioning, Support for the Family and Issues for the Surviving Parents. This study raised or confirmed a significant number of gaps in the published literature about bereaved individuals and families. The most important themes and categories are discussed in relation to the existing research literature about widow, adolescent and family bereavement together with the role and future of supportive interventions for bereaved children and their parents. This study was primarily exploratory but was unique in several respects in particular because it involved a community sample and interviews with both surviving parents and adolescents in the same families. The experiences of these families and their comments about the grief support programme provide further evidence that confirms the need to design and fund controlled, longitudinal evaluative studies of grief support programmes for bereaved children and their families such as Winston's Wish.
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