Devastating Losses

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Devastating Losses

SKU# 9780826107466

How Parents Cope With the Death of a Child to Suicide or Drugs

Author: William Feigelman Ph.D., Beverly Feigelman LCSW, John Jordan Ph.D., John McIntosh Ph.D.


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"Based on my forty year career in grief counseling, I give this work an unqualified recommendation for both professionals who care for grieving parents as well as for parents who are trying to understand their own losses or those of relatives or friends."--Gerald Corey, EdD, ABPP; in Illness, Crisis, and Loss

"This notable book provides new and substantive research data and perspective about how parents cope with the devastation that follows the death of a child to suicide or drugs...It greatly enriches our understanding to offer appropriate response for the healing journey of traumatically bereaved parents."--The Forum: The Newsletter of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC)

" [The] Feigelmans initiated the broadest and most conclusive survey data collection project regarding parent survivors. The result is the most current and comprehensive understanding of parent suicide survivors to date, with survivors ranging from the newly bereaved to those whose loss was well over a decade ago. This fact alone would ensure Devastating Loss's designation as an essential resource for mental health professionals, suicide survivors, and grief experts around the world. However, there is additional value in this work which is far greater than just the data collection."--American Association of Suicidology

"In addition to tugging on my heartstrings, Devastating Losses: How Parents Cope with the Death of a Child to Suicide or Drugs captivated my clinical quest for knowledge. The authors combined personal stories of survivors who lost children to suicide or drug related deaths with a profundity of solid quantitative research and clinical experience."--The Professional Counselor (TPC) Journal

"Finally, a thorough and elaborate American study has appeared on the grief and mourning process of bereaved parents who experienced the loss of a child to suicide or a drug overdose."--LAVA

"[This] reader experienced surprise in reading the book. It was not surprising that these experts did a good job; after all, they are experts writing on a topic they know well. Rather, it is the personal element, not often seen amidst so much data. The book is like a recipe for chicken salad that includes prunes, an unexpected combination that works quite well."--Death Studies

“Grounded equally in solid clinical practice and uniquely relevant research, and tragically leavened by the personal bereavement of two of the book's authors, Devastating Losses sheds new and compassionate light on the experience of a child's death to traumatic causes.”

Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD
Editor, Death Studies

"The book is important for its contributions to knowledge of a complex and illusive subject, and also—perhaps as importantly—a model for personal growth in the context of loss through learning and connection."--Clinical Social Work Journal

"This volume is a pioneering and long overdue work, a study not only of grieving parents who lost a child to suicide but also of parents whose children succumbed to drug overdoses. The authors have done a masterful job of blending their quantitative research findings and the anguished voices of parents attending survivor support groups to create a rich and very engaging book."

Michael F Myers, MD
Co-Author, “Touched by Suicide: Hope and Healing after Loss”

“I recommend this book for its impressive scope of data and thoughtful analysis. This resource will also be of value to those coping with the devastating loss of a family member or loved one.”

Edward K. (Ted) Rynearson
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Washington
Director, Violent Death Bereavement Society
Author, Retelling Violent Death, and Editor, Violent Death: Resilience and Intervention Beyond the Crisis

This book fills a critical gap in our scientific understanding of the grief response of parents who have lost a child to traumatic death and the psychotherapeutic strategies that best facilitate healing. It is based on the results of the largest study ever conducted of parents surviving a child’s traumatic death or suicide. The book was conceived by William and Beverly Feigelman following their own devastating loss of a son, and written from the perspective of their experiences as both suicide-survivor support group participants and facilitators. It intertwines data, insight, and critical learning gathered from research with the voices of the 575 survivors who participated in the study.

The text emphasizes the sociological underpinnings of survivors’ grief and provides data that vividly documents their critical need for emotional support. It explains how bereavement difficulties can be exacerbated by stigmatization, and by the failure of significant others to provide expected support. Also explored in depth are the ways in which couples adapt to the traumatic loss of a child and how this can bring them closer or render their relationship irreparable. Findings suggest that with time and peer support affiliations, most traumatically bereaved parents ultimately demonstrate resilience and find meaningful new roles for themselves, helping the newly bereaved or engaging in other humanitarian acts.

Key Features:

  • Offers researchers, clinicians, and parent-survivors current information on how parents adapt initially and over time after the traumatic loss of a child
  • Presents data culled from the largest survey ever conducted (575 individuals) of parents surviving a child’s suicide or other traumatic death
  • Investigates the ways in which stigmatization complicates and prolongs the grieving process
  • Addresses the tremendous value of support groups in the healing process
  • Explores how married couples are affected by the traumatic loss of their child

Product Details 

  • Publication Date June 20, 2012
  • Page Count 360
  • Product Form Paperback / softback
  • ISBN 13 9780826107466
  • EISBN 9780826107473

Table of Contents 


Chapter 1: Theoretical Issues Guiding this Research and How the Data were Collected

Section I: Factors Associated With the Loss Experience

Chapter 2: Suicide Stigma and Compounding of a Survivor's Grief Difficulties
Chapter 3: Drug Overdose Deaths and Survivors' Grief: A Greatly Neglected Subject
Chapter 4: Differences in the Suicide Death Circumstances And How They May Affect Survivors' Grief
Chapter 5: Grief Overload: The Impact of Multiple Losses, Only Child Loss and Multiple Stressor Events on Bereaved Parents

Section II: Forms of Bereavement Assistance and How They Help Survivors Cope

Chapter 6: Early Years After Loss: Survivors Get Help and Advance from Their Depths of Despair
Chapter 7: Later Years After Loss: Identifying the Postvention Needs of Survivors
Chapter 8: The Healing Potential of Survivor Support Groups
Chapter 9: How Survivors Use Support Groups: Comings and Goings
Chapter 10: Personal Growth After A Suicide Loss: Is it Associated With A Survivor's Mental Health?
Chapter 11: Internet Support Groups for Suicide Survivors: A New Form of Grief Support

Section III: The Impact of a Child's Traumatic Death on Married Couples

Chapter 12: Gender Differences in Grief After the Death of a Child
Chapter 13: Investigating Whether Child Loss Promotes Harmony or Discord Among Married Couples

Section IV: Where Do we Go From Here?

Chapter 14: Suggestions for Future Research

Appendix: The Survey Research Instrument

Related Blog Posts 

Devastating Losses: How Parents Cope With the Death of a Child to Suicide or Drugs

Ordinarily the publication of one’s book is a very joyous event, a cause for celebration, and in this case, after enduring a six-year course of collecting our data from more than 600 bereaved parents, writing up results, and endless revisions, we do indeed feel a sense of great relief and profound accomplishment. Yet, at the same time, at least two members of our coauthor team must now acknowledge... Read More