Parents coping with the death of their child: From individual to interpersonal to interactive perspectives.

M.S. Stroebe, H. Schut, C. Finkenauer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Scientific research on the impact of the death of a child on parents is reviewed. A major aim is to extend coverage from individual to social - in particular interactive - perspectives. We not only illustrate how such approaches complement each other, but also how different conclusions can be reached when interactive phenomena are examined. Intrapersonal studies are first reviewed, covering grief reactions as well as the range of health consequences and risk factors, including intrapersonal coping processes. Results attest to the severe impact of this type of loss across multiple dimensions of parents' lives. More social approaches are then reviewed. The impact of a child's death has been shown across diverse social phenomena (which also affect individual grief and grieving), including informal and professional support patterns, effects on the couple's relationship and on couple coping and communication. Finally, attention is focused on one social dimension in particular, namely, interactive coping processes. We describe our own initial research within this domain, on a phenomenon identified as partner-oriented self regulation (POSR; holding in grief for the partner's sake). The paradoxical results on POSR (its negative consequences for the partner as well as self) highlight the inherent social - as well as personal - nature of grief and bereavement. Implications for future research are outlined. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-36
JournalFamily Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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