Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Kari Fletcher

Abstract

Experiencing the death of a parent is often a life changing event, regardless of the age at which the loss is experienced. This research explored the experiences of adults who lost a parent during emerging adulthood, between the ages of 18 and 26. Using a qualitative method, 10 adults were interviewed regarding the support that was available and that they utilized following their loss, as well as the coping skills and mechanisms which they employed to assist with their grief. The resulting data from interview transcriptions were analyzed and themes were developed. The themes that developed included participant views of and feelings about support following the death of a parent, participant understandings of coping skills utilized following the death of a parent, and participant experiences of grief over time. Findings revealed common themes in the use of support and coping and also unique grief experiences among participants. This life crisis during emerging adulthood presented particular challenges with regard to individuation, while participants also yearned for connection. Social workers need to be prepared to encounter grieving emerging adults in various settings and understand their perspective on the world. Further research would be helpful with more specific groups of emerging adults.

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