Methods: The systemic review examined 55 peer-reviewed articles using key terms of parental bereavement; loss through suicide; loss through violence; loss through accidents; and loss of a child. Once the articles were identified they were analyzed and reduced to articles that included a minimum of parental bereavement and loss of a child through unnatural causes. This resulted in 55 articles dating from 1995 to 2022. A table was developed to capture the results of the study specifically identifying what the parents self-reported as useful in their grieving process. The table was analyzed for common themes.
Results: The thematic analysis identified several key themes that were reported by parents’ bereavement of their child through accidents or violence included: connecting to others, self-forgiveness, finding meaning, carrying the child forward in the parent’s life, and the ability to say goodbye as vital in the healing process for these bereaved parents.
Implications: Parents who experience the sudden death of a child will work with a variety of professionals to assist them in navigating the grief process and Jazen et al (2013) contended that understanding what parents need in the grief process is vital in their healing process. However, there is consensus that there are no clear guidelines on how to support parents facing the loss of a child through unnatural causes. This systemic review identified historical consistency in what parents’ self-report they need in their healing process and will provide insight to Social Workers on how to best support bereaved parents in a manner that is specific to losing a child in a tragic and sudden manner that is outside of traditional grief and bereavement. Further studies could compare the themes found in this study compared to grief and loss of a child due to natural causes.