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Changes in Parental Self-Identity Following the Death of a Child to Cancer

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This study explored parental self-identity at 6, 12, and 18 months following the death of a child to cancer. Semi-structured interviews were analyzed using qualitative methodology. Two patterns of parental self-identity emerged: identity reintegration, characterized by 6 associated themes (e.g., positive reframing, focusing on surviving children); and identity disintegration, characterized by 7 associated themes (e.g., negative perceptions of social support, self-destructive thoughts and behaviors). Patterns were stable from 6 to 12 months, but a shift towards identity disintegration was observed at 18 months. These findings suggest a need to support bereaved parents’ well-being beyond the first year post-death.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada 2: Department of Psychology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

Publication date: July 3, 2014

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