Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Children and Grief: When a Parent Dies

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Children and Grief: When a Parent Dies

Article excerpt

Children and Grief: When a Parent Dies. J. William Worden. New York: Guilford. 1996. 190 pp. ISBN 1-57230-148-1. $26.95 cloth.

The first part of this book summarizes the findings of the Harvard Child Bereavement Study, a longitudinal project carried out with Phyllis Silverman and Steven Nickman. It assessed children aged 6-17 at 4 months, 1 year, and 2 years following a parent's death. The second part of the book reviews literature on sibling death and parental divorce as a base for understanding a child's reactions to a parent's death. The third part discusses counseling and intervention for bereaved children.

The summary of the Child Bereavement Study covers many quantitative findings but gives almost no numbers or statistics. Nor are the methods or findings framed theoretically. But in the raw empiricism of the book there are many useful and intriguing findings-for example, on developmental differences, the range of grieving within an age cohort, where the child locates the deceased parent, how the child experiences and remembers the parent who died, peers who tease because a parent has died, changes in doing chores, the gender patterning of child grief, the ways children try to protect a surviving parent, children who believe they can bring back the parent who died, and a child's reactions to a parent's dating.

Another strength of the book is the qualitative data, brief scattered quotes from children offered mainly as illustrations. The quotes provide valuable texture to the findings and enable the reader to challenge findings. …

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