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Lifelong Hurt: Older Parents' Experience After the Death of an Adult Child

Weed, L. Diane PhD

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: January-February 2007 - Volume 9 - Issue 1 - p 22-30

The experience of the death of an adult child is a life-changing event for an older parent. A major research gap exists in studying older parents' bereavement. The purpose of this study was to develop a better understanding and a description of the meaning of the death of an adult child to an older parent. The interviews were analyzed using existential phenomenological. Results from this study indicated that the death of an adult child has deep personal meaning. Participants expressed new realities, new self-realizations, and a deeper understanding of life and death. The predominant theme was "lifelong hurt." The remaining themes were "just not real," "missing/holding on," and struggling/seeking solace."

L. Diane Weed, PhD, is Associate Professor, Troy University School of Nursing, Troy, AL.

Address correspondence to L. Diane Weed, PhD, 40 Collegeview Building, Troy, AL 36082 (e-mail:

© 2007 The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association