Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) Its Not Supposed to Happen This Way: What Helps Parents Who Have Lost a Child through Accidential or Violent Death (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

161P (see Poster Gallery) Its Not Supposed to Happen This Way: What Helps Parents Who Have Lost a Child through Accidential or Violent Death

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Dorothy Jimenez, DM, Faculty, Capella University, Fort collins, CO
Background and Purpose: This study conducted a systemic review of what parents who lost a child through an accidental or violent death need in their grieving process. The death of a child is a devastating and incomprehensible loss (Arnold & Gemma, 2008) that has a significant impact on those around them and creates a unique and significant grieving process for parents. Sporren et al (2001) shared that losing a child in an accident increase the risk of long-term psychiatric distress. The depth of research investigating how to support parents grieving due to natural causes validates that knowledge on how to support bereaved parents in the grieving process is important in providing support and services (Titlestand et al., 2020). The literature generally concludes there needs to be additional research on how to support parents bereaved due to a sudden or unexpected loss (Andriessen et al., 2019; Floyd, et al., 2013; Kawashima & Kawano, 2019).

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.