INFLUENCE OF SEX OF PARENT, TIMING OF LOSS AND AGE OF CHILD ON UNRESOLVED GRIEF AMONG BEREAVED PARENTS
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This study used bereaved public officials at Alausa Secretariat, Lagos State, as a case study to examine the influence of parent sex, timing of loss, and child age on unresolved sorrow among bereaved parents. The study specifically sought to determine whether there is a difference in grief between parents who were bereaved within the last five years and those who were bereaved more than five years ago; whether there is a difference in parental grief between mothers and fathers; and whether there is a difference in parental grief between bereaved parents of children under two years old and bereaved parents of children two years and older.
The study employed the survey descriptive research design. A total of 91 bereaved parents comprising of 50 women and 41 men were used as the sample size of this study. From the responses obtained and analysed, the findings revealed that bereaved parents who lost their children over 5 years ago still expressed higher degree of unresolved grief each time they remembered or are reminded of their bereavement. Both bereaved mothers and fathers alike reported higher degree of grief concerning the death of their children. Older children (2 years and above) reportedly significantly more grief than those below the age of 2 years. The study therefore recommend bereaved parents should endeavour to take the journey towards consoling themselves in order not to cause any health, psychological problems for themselves. They should know that continuous grieving will lead to depression and anti-socialism in their lives and might affect their career. Bereaved parents should come to the understanding that the dead cannot come back to life again, therefore, they should learn to bear that in mind and weep for a little while and move on with their lives and career.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Bereavement is an inevitable part of life. The individual’s reaction to it depends on higher relationship to the dead person. Bereavement brings about feeling of sadness emptiness, dejection and a times depression. Death is an unpleasant experience, and it forces people to make significant adjustment in their lives. The Psychological adjustment required during mourning include: coping with loneliness, finding new meaning for life, coping with anger, coping with guilt and low self-esteem, and seeking new sources of love.
Given the number of major adjustment require it is no wonder that death of a loved one is such a stressful experience. Bereaved parents often refers to their loss as the ultimate tragedy. According to Alexy (1982), following the death of a child the grieving process is usually experienced intensely and often includes periods of numbness, despair, loneliness and isolation, anger, guilt and waves of some other forms of negative emotion. Quite often, changes in fundamental life values and philosophical beliefs are reported by some as a consequence of experiencing the death of a child (Rando, 1984).
Even though some attention has been paid to the psycho-social situation of the widowed, less attention is being paid to the plight of bereaved parents. The experience of loss among bereaved parents is usually intensified because of the tenacious emotional bonding between parent and child and the perception of the death as being unnatural (since parents are expected to die before their children, all things being equal).
Markusen. Owen, Fulton and Bendiksen (1978) while considering a situation which can, lead to complication in the grieving process of bereaved parents, focused on some of the adjustment problems precipitated by the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). They identified several features of (SIDS) that tend to be especially troublesome including the unexpected nature of the death itself. It is more difficult to bear since the cause and prevention might not be known. The severing of Parent – infant bonding adjustment problems for surviving siblings and many relations who might be demanding for explanations concerning the sudden death can cause some distress for parents. Bereaved Parents may sometimes cry unexpectedly, feel extremely lonely and yet resist others’ attempt to provide social support. There may also be attempts to escape from the reminders of the loss while cultivating memories of the dead child. Such parents behaviour may be ambivalent in that while insisting that life is no more worth living after the death of a child, they may resume their careers and be eager to take care of their surviving children and take up the responsibilities of home life. Hence, bereaved parents are usually put to the test of reconciling these contradictory impulses.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There is no more devastating loss than the death of a child. Losing a child is a disruption in the natural law and order of life. It is heartbreak like no other. Parental grief is different from other grief, it lasts longer and is more intense. Yet, for most grieving parents, the hope and desire that healing will come eventually persists. “Children are not supposed to die. Parents expect to see their children grow and mature. Ultimately, parents expect to die and leave their children behind. This is the natural course of life events, the life cycle continuing as it should. The loss of a child is the loss of innocence, the death of the most vulnerable and dependent. The death of a child signifies the loss of the future, of hopes and dreams, of new strength, and of perfection.” Parents who lose a child seek ways to continue to love, honor, and value the life of that child and to make the child’s presence known and felt in the lives of family and friends. Bereaved parents often try to live their lives more fully and generously because of this painful experience. Hence, this study seeks to examine the influence of sex of parent, timing of loss and age of child on unresolved grief among bereaved parents.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study are:
1. To determine if there is a difference between grief of parents who were bereaved within the last five years and those parents who were bereaved over five years ago.
2. To find out if there is a difference on parental grief of mothers and that of fathers.
3. To find out if there is a difference on parental grief of bereaved parents of children under 2 years and that of bereaved parents of children of 2 years and above.
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