Living with Loss and Contemplating Living: The Experiences of Bereaved Parents Coping with the Loss of a Child during Military Service
Sarit Parnas Goldberger
and Idit Weisler-Mamo
The aims of this study were to deepen the understanding of the bereavement experienced by Israeli parents who have lost a child during military service, as well as the factors that help or hinder coping. Eighteen bereaved parents receiving services from the Defense Ministry Department of Families and Commemoration participated in one of three focus groups. Research questions included the following: 1. What is life with bereavement like, and what factors have helped or hindered coping throughout the years? 2. What impact has the passing of time had on bereavement? 3. How do social workers contribute to coping with bereavement? A thematic analysis was conducted by authors. Results showed dialectic between the will to cope with the painful loss and the will to avoid those feelings. The ability to move forward with life originates with an internal decision by the parent. Although the level of pain may increase over the years, the ability to function in different life tasks does improve with time. Social workers may contribute towards healing through their presence, continuous support, and by allowing for a place to hold some of the pain, so the parent doesn't need to. The interpreted research findings were used to form a new model which was named the "spiral path model" for coping with loss. Findings highlighted the importance of searching for, and strengthening, those elements that help lead to the decision to carry on living.