'Bereaved parents cope better if happily married'

Study: Parents of fallen soldiers cope differently depending on their “belief in themselves and faith in others."

April 25, 2012 02:36
1 minute read.
Shadow of couple on Israeli flag [file]

Shadow of couple on Israeli flag 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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Bereaved parents of fallen soldiers have been through the same experience, but they react and cope differently depending on their “belief in themselves and faith in others,” according to new research from the University of Haifa.

Prof. Shimshon Rubin, Prof. Binyamin Beit-Halahmi and Dr. Itai Adras of of the psychology department said they found that 30 percent of parents of fallen soldiers suffered problems in their marriage due to their bereavement.

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Rubin noted that losing a child is one of the most traumatic events a parent can suffer.

The team looked at the personalities and characteristics of 126 bereaved parents and an additional 62 parents who had not lost their children in military service, the latter serving as a control group.

They found that the parents’ “style of communication” has a significant influence on how they cope with their loss. Parents who have difficulty trusting themselves and others find it much more difficult to deal with mourning and loss, while those who are more open showed that their functioning was similar to those who have not lost children.

Gender was also a major factor, they found. Women have more difficulty coping than their male partners. The team found that those bereaved couples who were most satisfied with their marital relationships coped better with their loss.

Rubin added that their research pointed to a “certain paradox,” as people who are more open to support and help after losing their children have stronger communication with others and thus already have emotional strength.

Those who most need emotional support have the most difficulty communicating with others so they cannot get it, Rubin explained.

Bereavement is so difficult, he said. “The question is how to make the transition to the new reality without their loved one... The challenge is to society and professionals, and to the bereaved themselves, in finding ways to relieve their difficulties in coping with the reality and the changes in their lives.”

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