Using data obtained from 14 interviews representing 9 families and 10 child deaths, this paper examines moments in time that occasion or may occasion social encounters that are problematic for bereaved parent(s): 1) holidays in general, e.g., Christmas, New Years; 2) particular events, e.g., weddings, funerals, graduations; and 3) those occasions specifically associated with the deceased child, e.g., the child's birthday and/or death anniversary. For bereaved parents such occasions may be excruciating. In the case of holidays or special events, the absence of the deceased may be especially poignant since he or she would have been present had he/she lived. In the case of the birthday or death anniversary of the deceased, the failure of others to take note of the significance of the day accentuates the loneliness of loss. Such moments in time, however, are sociologically as well as psychologically important for they mark events that belong to the group as a whole as well as to individual members of the group. The bereaved parent, then, must contend not only with the members of the group but also with the group itself. Erving Goffman's conceptualization of the "social encounter" provides additional insight into why these occasions are so problematic for the bereaved parent. Implications for grief counseling are discussed.
Brabant, Sarah; Forsyth, Craig J.; and McFarlain, Glenda
"Special Moments, Special Times: Problematic Occasions Following the Death of a Child,"
Clinical Sociology Review: Vol. 13
, Article 7.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/csr/vol13/iss1/7