Parental loss: an exploratory and comparative study of parental loss through natural death and suicide

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Kavanagh, Avril
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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For so many years parental loss has been overlooked within society. One could say, it has been outranked by other types of loss, yet it is one that everyone will experience at some point in their lives. This study sets out to explore the experience of parental loss through natural death and suicide and to investigate the similarities and differences between these two groups of survivors of parental loss. Ten individuals were interviewed, five of whom lost a parent to illness and five through suicide. The findings provide greater insight into the experiences of both groups across a number of themes including the experience of the death, how they grieved, the relationship they had with the deceased, how they coped, the impact it had on their lives, the experience of stigma, support at the time and later and what would have helped them looking back. The findings of each are discussed and then compared and contrasted and form the foundation for the conclusions and recommendations. It is intended that this thesis gives a voice to people who tend to be the ‘forgotten survivors’ of loss.