The death of a mother in adolescence. A qualitative study of the perceived impact on a woman’s adult life and the parent she becomes.
AuthorsHardman, Rachael J.
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AbstractAim: The purpose of this research was to explore the lived experience and meaning of the unique stories of women who had been bereaved of their mothers during their adolescence. The objective: to develop and enhance an understanding of the perceived impact on their adult life and subsequent approach to motherhood. Method: This qualitative study was conducted by using semi-structured interviews with four participants, all of whom were mothers and over forty years of age to allow for retrospect. Data was analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Findings: The study revealed five main themes, all with striking similarity amongst participants. The findings indicated that the effect of mother death in adolescence was influenced by contextual factors such as suppression of grief through silence and behaviour of surviving parent. All participants reported an enduring psychological effect from their experience; an enduring sense of hurt; feelings of low self-esteem; anger; insecurity; anxiety; neediness and chronic sorrow for both themselves and their mothers. Sadness stemmed from continuous mourning felt through the loss of an adult relationship with their mothers and an awareness of having lost an aspect of themselves. The study identified a ‘ripple effect’ to future generations and established an effect on parenting, with mothers identifying themselves as anxious, uncertain, protective and over compensatory. The study also highlighted facets of posttraumatic growth. Aspects of their healing process were described by participants, including a felt sense of continuing connection with their mothers. All participants believed that they had developed positive character traits as a result of their loss, such as strength and empathy. Furthermore, with age and motherhood, participants experienced an enhanced awareness and self-understanding which afforded them some comfort. Conclusion: This work contributes to growing research suggesting ‘particular effect’ of mother death in adolescence and the subsequent impact on motherhood. Through participants’ words this research details how this experience shaped their lives and reiterates the enormity of loss and its ripple effect. Through the distinct similarities of participant responses, it affirms this phenomenon which has significance not only for women bereaved of their mothers in adolescence but for counsellors’ understanding of this phenomenon.
CitationHardman, R. J. (2020). The death of a mother in adolescence. A qualitative study of the perceived impact on a woman’s adult life and the parent she becomes. (Masters thesis). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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