Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Dr. Marsha Cohen


Accidents, suicides, and homicides are the leading causes of death in the young. These are all modes of violent deaths. Although the response to loss has been a prevalent area of inquiry, limited research exists how or whether the context of violent death affects the response of parents to the loss of a child. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to enhance the theoretical understanding of the parent's bereavement response to the violent death of the child. Twelve parents whose children were murdered participated in the in-depth interviews. With the constant comparison and analysis of data, the public response to the death emerged as the most troublesome and unique issue when a child is murdered. Parents contended with this problem by synthesizing their own response to the death with that of the public in an attempt to recreate the scenario surrounding the death. The ability of the parents to synthesize the public response with their own accounts for the variance in the outcome of the process. When parents attain synthesis, they integrate both and attain a culmination in the process. Parents who are unable to synthesize the two do not attain this reprieve. As the number of violent deaths continues to increase, more children will be murdered. The substantive theory developed from this research extends the foundation for nursing caring for parents bereaved under these circumstances.