Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

JoAnne Youngblut

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committe Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dorothy Brooten

Third Advisor's Name

Anahid Kulwicki

Fourth Advisor's Name

Whitney Bauman


Spirituality, Parent Grief and Mental Health, Infant's/Child's death

Date of Defense



The death of an infant/child is one of the most devastating experiences for parents and immediately throws them into crisis. Spiritual and religious coping strategies may help parents with their loss. The purposes of this longitudinal study were to: 1) describe differences in bereaved parents’ use of spiritual coping strategies across racial/ethnic and religious groups, mother/father dyads, and time – one (T1) and three (T2) months after the infant’s/child’s death in the neonatal (NICU) or pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), and 2) test the relationship between spiritual coping strategies and grief, mental health, and personal growth for mothers and fathers at T1 and T2. A sample of 126 Hispanic, Black/African American, and White parents of 119 deceased children completed the Spiritual Coping Strategies scale, Beck Depression Inventory-II, Impact of Events-Revised, Hogan Grief Reaction Checklist, and a demographic form at T1 and T2. Controlling for race and religion, spiritual coping was a strong predictor of lower grief, better mental health, and greater personal growth for mothers at T1 and T2 and lower grief for fathers at T1. The findings of this study will guide bereaved parents to effective strategies to help them cope with their early grief.





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