The "how" and "when" of parental loss in adulthood: Effects on grief and adjustment

Bert Hayslip, Jessica H. Pruett, Daniela M. Caballero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In order to evaluate the role of cause of death on the grief responses of parentally bereaved young and middle-aged adults, 400 individuals completed measures assessing their experiences and feelings surrounding the loss of a parent. Respondents included 247 young adults and 155 middle-aged adults. Cause of death was categorized as acute or anticipated with 209 participants reporting the parent's death as acute, while anticipated death was reported by 191 individuals. Results suggested that gender of the adult child and age level of the participant were important factors contributing to the grief response, and women were found to have more difficulty adjusting to the loss of a parent as well as demonstrating a more intense grief response. Young adults were found to be more impacted by the loss of a parent than were middle-aged adults. Those who were single or separated were similarly more impacted versus those who were married, where more young adults were single/separated and more middle-aged adults were married. Cause of death was only mildly influential in influencing responses to parental loss and did not interact with other studied variables. These results point to the importance of support from others in coping with a parent's death as well as for the counseling of bereaved persons who may be at risk for difficulties in coping with the death of a parent and enable a more precise understanding of individual grief processes across the adult lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-18
Number of pages16
JournalOmega (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Bereavement
  • Grief
  • Middle aged adults
  • Parental loss
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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