Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


The purpose of this study was to explore how adult children's religious beliefs as well as their relationships to God(s) were affected by the loss of a parent. In addition, the study sought to look for possible similarities between parent and God(s) relationships in the face of the bereavement process. This exploratory study was conducted in 12 face to face interviews. Each participant who was over the age of 21 years old at the time of a parent's death, and who identified as having a religious belief system prior to a parent's death, was interviewed about his or her childhood and adulthood relationships with parents, his or her relationship with faith and God(s) before and after the death of a parent, as well as the bereavement process. Participants were included regardless of denomination or the nature of their parents' deaths. Major findings included that 8 out of 12 participants experienced a change in faith immediately following their parents' deaths. Additionally, 8 out of 12 participants identified as experiencing a change in their relationship with God(s) following the death of the parent. These changes ranged from a strengthening in the relationship to a weakening/loss of/questioning of their relationship. The remaining 4 participants reported no change in their type of relationship with God(s). Additionally, there were no strong relationships between participants' descriptions of their parents and their descriptions of their image of God(s). Results also indicated that the process of meaning-making as well as having the opportunity to say good-bye to a dying parent, were two important experiences for many participants.


107 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (p. 94-96)