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A bereavement group for parents whose son or daughter died from cancer: how shared experience can lessen isolation

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Mortality
Issue number4
Volume17
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)338-354
StatePublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article analyses the content of a session of a bereavement support group for parents whose teenage or young adult son or daughter had died from cancer. It considers how the group works, how people come to believe that they share a similar grief and how they ‘co-write’ a narrative about what they perceive as their shared grief. The analysis suggests strongly that this is a forum where ways of managing grief and loss can be supported through sharing with others who have not only been through a similar experience but one which may not be well understood by others. The bereaved parents felt that others who had not endured the loss of a child would find some of the manifestations of their grief and how they commemorated their child difficult to understand. There was both an explicit and implicit acknowledgment amongst group members that the group provided a safe place where what might be perceived as dysfunctional grief could be recognised and validated as ‘normal’ by other members. The conclusion is that the loss of a child sets bereaved parents apart from other bereaved people, their ‘normality’ has to be reconfigured and membership of such a group, if it is well facilitated, can assist in the grieving process and lessen isolation.