What Can We do for Caregivers Dealing with the Death of their Child?


file0001696817623For the typical individual,  grief following the death of a loved one from natural causes follows a process involving acceptance and yearning for their loved one, with a significant decline in negative emotions by about 6-months after the loss (Maciejewski, Zhang, Block, & Prigerson, 2007). When these negative emotions persist beyond 6-months and interfere with everyday functioning the grieving individual may need professional support. Bereavement for individuals dealing with a violent or traumatic death tend to have a more difficult time processing the loss and overcoming these negative emotions and making sense of what happened (Curier, Holland, & Neimeyer, 2006). You can read about a qualitative and quantitative examination of meaning making after the death of one’s child by linking to a recent publication by Lichtenthal, Currier, Neimeyer, and Keesee (2010). Thus, while approximately 9% of bereaved adults develop clinically significant grief problems, this percentage is likely much higher in individuals whose loved one died in a violent manner (Wittouck, Van Autreve, De Jaegere, Portzky, & Heeringen, 2011). A recent meta-analysis of prevention and treatment interventions regarding complicated grief found a lack of efficacy for prevention programs and empirical support for the benefit of treatment interventions (i.e., after complicated grief is identified; Wittouck et al., 2011). Thus, while social support, positive marital relationships (Song, Floyd, Seltzer, Greenberg, & Hong, 2010), and other personal resources help to protect against developing clinically significant grief problems, there is currently no indication that professional intervention soon after the loss will be effective in reducing the probability of having these problems (Wittouck et al., 2011). Read more about complicated grief HERE.

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