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Parent Spirituality, Grief, and Mental Health at 1 and 3Months After Their Infant’s/Child’s Death in an Intensive Care Unit

Journal title
Journal of pediatric nursing
Publication year
Hawthorne, D. M.; Youngblut, J. M.; Brooten, D.

The death of an infant/child is one of the most devastating experiences for parents and immediately throws them into crisis. Research on the use of spiritual/religious coping strategies is limited, especially with Black and Hispanic parents after a neonatal (NICU) or pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) death. PURPOSE: The purpose of this longitudinal study was to test the relationships between spiritual/religious coping strategies and grief, mental health (depression and post-traumatic stress disorder) and personal growth for mothers and fathers at 1 (T1) and 3 (T2) months after the infant’s/child’s death in the NICU/PICU, with and without control for race/ethnicity and religion. RESULTS: Bereaved parents’ greater use of spiritual activities was associated with lower symptoms of grief, mental health (depression and post-traumatic stress), but not post-traumatic stress in fathers. Use of religious activities was significantly related to greater personal growth for mothers, but not fathers. CONCLUSION: Spiritual strategies and activities helped parents cope with their grief and helped bereaved mothers maintain their mental health and experience personal growth.

Research abstracts