Support after Loss: Straight Talk from Young Widowed Parents

Korie DeBruin, St. Catherine University


Young widowed parents frequently report challenges with their social environment after the deaths of their partners. The purpose of this study was to have young widowed parents identify helpful ways they have been supported since the deaths of their partners. A total of 42 young widowed parents (6 male, 36 female) participated in this study. A mixed method approach was used to answer the following research question: What are helpful ways that people have supported you since the death of your partner? In order to gain this information, participants were asked to complete an online survey that contained both qualitative and quantitative questions. Young widowed parents were recruited from the following sources: 1. An online support group for young widows and widowers, 2. A loss of spouse support group, 3. Young Widowed Support Group on, a local informal support group for young widows and widowers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, 4. Acquaintances of the researcher and 5. Snowball sampling. A grounded theory approach was used to analyze the qualitative data from the survey. The main findings that emerged from this study include: 1. Seven types of support seen as helpful, 2. Identification of four main community groups that have provided the most helpful support to young widowed parents since the deaths of their partners, 3. Identification of professional services that have been helpful to young widowed parents, 4. Suggestions for professionals who work with young widowed parents, 5. Things that young widowed parents know now that they wish they had known at the time of their partners’ deaths, and 6. Appropriate things to say to young widowed parents after the deaths of their partners. Findings are directly applied to the social challenges that are commonly reported by this population and suggestions to improve services are given.