Funeral directors' experiences of the immediate bereavement period when a parent of dependent children has died

Jeff Hanna, Eilis McCaughan, Cherith Semple

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Death remains a taboo in Western society. When a parent of dependent children dies, the bereaved parent, or next significant adult are often challenged regarding the role for children during the immediate bereavement period. Children who are not involved during this critical time may be more susceptive to adversities as they deal with death into adult life. To facilitate coping and moderate for negative outcomes, there is a need to gain insight and understand as to how families navigate the immediate bereavement period.
Aim: To explore funeral directors’ experience of family life in the immediate bereavement period when a parent of dependent children has died.
Methods: Qualitative semi-structured in-depth interviews with twenty-three funeral directors.
Results: At a time of heightened distress, parents often struggle to navigate the immediate bereavement period, with their dependent children. As one of the few professionals present during the immediate bereavement period, some families sought direction and reassurance from funeral directors. Three themes were identified: (1) the challenges as experienced by families at time of death, (2) navigating the family through the immediate bereavement period to include preparing their young children for viewing the parent in the coffin and how best to involve their children in the planning and delivery of the funeral and (3) societal shifts influencing the immediate bereavement period.
Conclusion: Funeral directors can have an important role in supporting families to prepare and involve dependent children in the immediate bereavement period. Appropriate guidelines should be developed for funeral directors to equip them in their role to support young families in the immediate bereavement period. Parents should be equipped to explain and share the news with their dependent children concerning the impending death of their parent before the event occurs.

Funding: This research was funded by the UK Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) awarded to the lead author to undertake this research as part of his PhD.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Jan 2020
Event11th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care: 11th World Congress of the EAPC - Virtual
Duration: 16 Oct 202019 Oct 2020

Conference

Conference11th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care
Period16/10/2019/10/20

Keywords

  • death
  • immediate bereavement period
  • funeral directors
  • parental death

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