The most productive years of my life were the first 3 years after Robbie’s death. I kept myself crazy-busy. It took 3 years before I felt it was safe to stop. Then I sold my business of 17 years to a staff member, stopped lecturing MBA students and started my PhD full time. Studying for me is a safe place; it’s like wrapping a cosy warm blanket about myself on a cold Winter’s day.
Research supports this timeframe of 3-5 years:
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BEREAVED PARENTS’ OUTCOMES 4 TO 60 MONTHS AFTER THEIR CHILDREN’S DEATHS BY ACCIDENT, SUICIDE, OR HOMICIDE: A COMPARATIVE STUDY DEMONSTRATING DIFFERENCES
In this article, the authors revisit a controversial issue in the bereavement field: Does one violent cause of death of a child influence parents’ outcomes more than another? To address this question, we observed 173 parents prospectively 4, 12, 24, and 60 months after their children’s deaths by accident, suicide, or homicide. Quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to examine the influence of three types of a child’s violent death and timesince death upon 4 parent outcomes (mental distress, post-tramatic stress disorder [PTSD], acceptance of the child’s death, and marital satisfaction). The results showed a significant interaction for the bereavement Group 2 Time effect for acceptance of death, a significant main effect for time for all four outcomes, and a significant main effect for group (homicide) for PTSD. Nearly 70% of the parents reported that it took either 3 or 4 years to put their children’s death into perspective and continue with their own lives; however the child’s cause of death did not significantly influence parents’ sense of timing in this regard. Clinical and research implications of the findings are discussed.
Murphy, S. A., Clark Johnson, L., Wu, L., Fan, J. J., & Lohan, J. (2003). BEREAVED PARENTS’OUTCOMES 4 TO 60 MONTHS AFTER THEIR CHILDREN’S DEATHS BY ACCIDENT, SUICIDE, OR HOMICIDE: A COMPARATIVE STUDY DEMONSTRATING DIFFERENCES. Death studies,27(1), 39-61.
FINDING MEANING IN A CHILD’S VIOLENT DEATH: A FIVE-YEAR PROSPECTIVE ANALYSIS OF PARENTS’ PERSONAL NARRATIVES AND EMPIRICAL DATA
Finding meaning in the death of a loved one is thought to be extremely traumatic when the circumstances surrounding the death is perceived to be due to negligence, is intentional, and when the deceased suffered extreme pain and bodily harm immediately prior to death. We addressed this assumption by obtaining personal narratives and empirical data from 138 parents 4, 12, 24, and 60 months after an adolescent’s or young adult child’s death by accident, suicide, or homicide. Using the Janoff-Bulman and Frantz’s(1997) framework ofmeaning-as-comprehensibility and meaning-as-significance, the purposes were to identify the time course to find meaning, present parents’ personal narratives describing finding meaning in their experiences, identify predictors of finding meaning, and compare parents who found meaning versus those who did not on five health and adjustment outcomes. The results showed that by 12 months postdeath, only 12% of the study sample had found meaning in a child’s death. By 60 months postdeath, 57% of the parents had found meaning but 43% had not. Significant predictors of finding meaning 5 years postdeath were the use of religious coping and support group attendance. Parents who attended abereavement support group were 4 times more likely to find meaning than parents who did not attend. Parents who found meaning in the deaths of their children reported significantly lower scores on mental distress, higher marital satisfaction, and better physical health than parents who were unable to find meaning. Recommendations for future research are made.
Murphy, S. A., Clark Johnson, L., & Lohan, J. (2003). FINDING MEANING IN A CHILD’S VIOLENT DEATH: A FIVE-YEAR PROSPECTIVE ANALYSIS OF PARENTS’PERSONAL NARRATIVES AND EMPIRICAL DATA. Death studies, 27(5), 381-404.
Long-term effects of the death of a child on parents’ adjustment in midlife.
The death of a child is a traumatic event that can have long-term effects on the lives of parents. This study examined bereaved parents of deceased children (infancy to age 34) and comparison parents with similar backgrounds (n = 428 per group) identified in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. An average of 18.05 years following the death, when parents were age 53, bereaved parents reported more depressive symptoms, poorer well-being, and more health problems and were more likely to have experienced a depressive episode and marital disruption than were comparison parents. Recovery from grief was associated with having a sense of life purpose and having additional children but was unrelated to the cause of death or the amount of time since the death. The results point to the need for detection and intervention to help those parents who are experiencing lasting grief. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Rogers, C. H., Floyd, F. J., Seltzer, M. M., Greenberg, J., & Hong, J. (2008). Long-term effects of the death of a child on parents’ adjustment in midlife.Journal of family psychology, 22(2), 203.