An unbreakable bond between older adults and their dead children: A qualitative study


Trauma Nursing Research Center, Kashan University of Medical Sciences, Kashan, Iran


Background: One strategy that parents use to achieve peace and recovery following the death of a child is to continue bonding with their dead children. Older adults with the death of a child are a vulnerable group, but no study has been conducted on them in Iran. Objectives: The current study aimed to explore the relationship between older adults and their dead children. Methods: This qualitative study utilized the grounded theory method. The data were gathered through purposive sampling during 2020–2021. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 older adults who had experienced a child death. The method of Corbin and Strauss (2015) was used to analyze the data. The Guba and Lincoln criteria were used to ensure the data trustworthiness. The data were managed using MAXQDA12. Results: The participants' mean age was 68.30 ± 7.39 years, and 76.9% of them were female. The findings were categorized into three major categories and nine subcategories. The three major categories of “staying connected with the dead child,” “attempting to seek peace for the dead child,” and “keeping the child's memories alive” emerged from the participants' experiences, along with the theme of “unbreakable bond with the child.” Conclusion: As a protective strategy, the continuing bond between the older parents and their dead children aided in their adjustment. It is suggested that health-care providers facilitate the acceptance of child death in these older adults through providing group counseling and reminiscence sessions.


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