Parental bereavement: from grief theory to a creative nonfiction perspective on grieving the death of a young adult child from cancer
Arnold, S, Woods, WJ & Hawryluk, L 2007, 'Parental bereavement: from grief theory to a creative nonfiction perspective on grieving the death of a young adult child', in B Knight, B Walker-Gibbs & J Delamoir (eds), Research into 21st century communities, Post Pressed, Teneriffe, Qld., pp. 231-247
The death of a child is the most tragic of all deaths. Parental grieving is the most devastating, the longest lasting, and the most far-reaching in its effects, of all forms of grief. Much of the current literature on parental grieving has been written from a medical, sociological, psychological or anthropological perspective. Whilst contributing to scholarly understanding of the topic, the models of grief in these texts are described in academic language that is not easily accessible to bereaved parents. In addition to these academic texts, there are many published books written by grief counsellors and bereaved parents that focus on infant death, child death after illness, sudden violent death, and teenage suicide. While there are some similarities in grieving the death of a young child and an adult child, there are also many differences, just as there are differences in grieving sudden death in young adults and young adults who have died after a terminal illness. Though there are studies on sudden death in young adults, there is a paucity of information, in both academic literature and market-orientated works, on the topic of grieving the death of a young adult child from cancer. This chapter will review the existing literature on parental grieving and outline how a creative nonfiction narrative may illuminate theory with the lived experience of parents grieving the death of a young adult child from cancer.