Devastating Losses: How Parents Cope With the Death of a Child to Suicide or Drugs

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Springer Publishing Company, Jun 20, 2012 - Family & Relationships - 360 pages
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This book fills a critical gap in our scientific understanding of the grief response of parents who have lost a child to traumatic death and the psychotherapeutic strategies that best facilitate healing. It is based on the results of the largest study ever conducted of parents surviving a child's traumatic death or suicide. The book was conceived by William and Beverly Feigelman following their own devastating loss of a son, and written from the perspective of their experiences as both suicide-survivor support group participants and facilitators. It intertwines data, insight, and critical learning gathered from research with the voices of the 575 survivors who participated in the study.

The text emphasizes the sociological underpinnings of survivors' grief and provides data that vividly documents their critical need for emotional support. It explains how bereavement difficulties can be exacerbated by stigmatization, and by the failure of significant others to provide expected support. Also explored in depth are the ways in which couples adapt to the traumatic loss of a child and how this can bring them closer or render their relationship irreparable. Findings suggest that with time and peer support affiliations, most traumatically bereaved parents ultimately demonstrate resilience and find meaningful new roles for themselves, helping the newly bereaved or engaging in other humanitarian acts.

Key Features:

  • Offers researchers, clinicians, and parent-survivors current information on how parents adapt initially and over time after the traumatic loss of a child
  • Presents data culled from the largest survey ever conducted (575 individuals) of parents surviving a child's suicide or other traumatic death
  • Investigates the ways in which stigmatization complicates and prolongs the grieving process
  • Addresses the tremendous value of support groups in the healing process
  • Explores how married couples are affected by the traumatic loss of their child


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1 Theoretical Issues Guiding This Study and How the Data Were Collected
Section I Factors Associated Withthe Loss Experience
Section II Forms of Bereavement Assistance and How They Help Survivors Cope
Section III The Impact of a Childs Traumatic Death on Married Couples
Section IV Where Do We Go From Here?

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About the author (2012)

William Feigelman, PhD, is Professor Emeritus and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Nassau Community College (Garden City, New York), where he has taught for more than 44 years and still teaches part-time. Author and co-author of six books and more than 40 journal articles, he has written on a wide variety of social science subjects including child adoptions, youth alcohol and drug abuse, problem gambling, tobacco use and cessation, and intergroup relations. Since 2002, after his son Jesse's suicide, Dr. Feigelman has focused his professional writings on youth suicide and suicide bereavement. This work has appeared in "Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Death Studies, Omega: Journal of Death and Dying" and "Illness, Crisis and Loss. "He is a member of the American Association of Suicidology and the Association for Death Education and Counseling, a frequent presenter at bereavement conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Japan, and a co-facilitator of a survivors' support group

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