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Long-Term Effects of Sudden Bereavement

Journal of Family Psychology , Volume 2 (3): 344 – Mar 1, 1989


Sage Publications
Copyright © 1989 by Division of Family Psychology, APA
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Long-Term Effects of Sudden Bereavement


In this article, we explore long-term family adjustment to sudden, unexpected bereavement by examining (a) the effects of the loss of a child on the parents' relationship, (b) the impact of a family member's death on the parent-child relationship, and (c) the effects on children of the death of a sibling or parent. Findings indicate a polarization effect with respect to marital relationships; generally they either strengthen or dissolve after the death of a child. Although bereaved parents and spouses reported feeling more stressed when thinking of their daily experiences as a parent, most bereaved adults reported feeling closer to their children after the loss of a family member. Finally, parental reports suggest that the death of a parent or sibling is overwhelmingly negative for children, and extremely so for a significant percentage. Limitations of the present study and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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