Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gutierrez, Peter M.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Bereavement in children; Bereavement in adolescence; Grief in children; Grief in adolescence; Parents--Death--Psychological aspects; Children and death--Psychological aspects


A total of 104 individuals, age 18 and older, participated in this study to examine the effects of childhood parental bereavement. Participants were drawn primarily from the undergraduate population of Northern Illinois University, but also from the greater DeKalb area. Participants were divided into two groups of 52, and the groups were matched on gender and ethnicity. One group consisted of individuals who had experienced the death of a parent prior to their 18th birthday, and the other group consisted of individuals from intact families. Participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing depression, anxiety, and general psychopathology. Participants also completed questionnaires assessing their perceptions of parenting behavior, fears of loss and abandonment, and tendencies toward sociotropy. Results suggested that the bereaved individuals reported more symptoms of depression than the nonbereaved, but not more symptoms of anxiety or general psychopathology. Further, the relationship that did exist between bereavement status and depressive symptomology was mild. The results also suggested that the relationship between bereavement status and depressive symptomology may be mediated by sociotropy and by perceptions by the bereaved that their surviving parent was lacking in care and engaging in hostile behaviors toward them during the postbereavement period. The role of perceived vulnerability to loss and abandonment to mediate the relationship between bereavement status and symptomology was also examined but was not supported. Further, the bereaved were more likely to report perceptions that their parent was uncaring when the surviving parent was the father. In contrast, only marginal and equivocal support was found for perceived parenting to moderate the relationship between bereavement status and current symptomology and no support for moderating the relationship between bereavement status and either of the constructs of sociotropy or perceived vulnerability to loss and abandonment.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [125]-134)


viii, 200 pages




Northern Illinois University

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