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This study investigated the emotional consequences for parents following the death of their child. Bereaved parents and age and gender-matched peers completed measures of physical health, depression, post-traumatic stress, and personal coping resources. To investigate the regulation of emotional reactions, the authors used a new instrument consisting of 4 scales: adaptive emotion regulation, confiding in others as a means to feeling better, avoiding and hiding emotions, and controlling the emotional impact by distorting awareness and communication. The bereaved parents were severely affected by the loss; they reported high distress levels. However, parents both in the bereavement group as well as in a comparison group who had experienced human loss showed better ability to control emotions adaptively compared with those who did not report such losses. The result is discussed in terms of lifespan development and personal growth.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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