Continuing bonds with the living : bereaved parents’ narratives of their emotional relationship with their children
The death of a child can be seen as one of the most devastating experiences for parents which can result in a unique and enduring grief. Parents with surviving children face the task of navigating their own grief while continuing to parent. This narrative inquiry explores bereaved parents’ stories of their emotional relationship with their surviving children. Parents told stories of emotional connection and disconnection with surviving children, influenced by the competing and potentially incompatible tasks of ‘parenting’ and ‘grieving’. The need for a relational focus to bereavement research and practice is highlighted. The findings demonstrate the need for clinicians to provide i) parents an opportunity to explore their sometimes contradicting and troubling experiences of grief and parenting and ii) children with support to make sense of their experiences in relation to the parent-child relationship.