Parental Relationships Beyond the Grave: Adolescents' Description of Continued Bonds

Publication Title

Palliative and Supportive Care

Publication Date


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adolescent bereavement, adolescent grief, continued bonds, meaning making




ABSTRACT Objective: Many people experience an ongoing relationship with a deceased loved one. This is called a “continued bond.” However, little is known about the adolescent experience with continued bonds once a parent has died. This study describes three ways that adolescents continue their relationship with a parent after that parent’s death. Method: Individual semistructured interviews were conducted with nine adolescent children of deceased hospice patients from a large hospice in northeastern Ohio as part of a larger grounded-theory study. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using a conventional content analysis approach. Results: Adolescents continued their bonds with deceased parents in one of three ways: experiencing encounters with the deceased parent, listening to the inner guide of the parent, and keeping mementos to remind them of the parent. Significance of results: The ways that the adolescents continued their bond with a deceased parent assisted them in creating meaning out of their loss and adjusting to life without that parent. Our results can be used by health professionals and parents to help adolescents after a parent has died.