The effects of attachment and social support on grief of mothers who experience perinatal death or adoption relinquishment



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The loss of a loved one can be a most devastating experience. Few people are prepared to undergo the psychological turmoil which accompanies such a loss. This is especially difficult for mothers who have experienced the loss of an infant through perinatal death or adoption relinquishment. Societal nonrecognition and nonacceptance of the plight of these mothers has led to decreased support at their time of loss and a lack of services being provided. In an attempt to add to a greater understanding of the grief reactions of these mothers, this study sought to determine the effects which attachment and social support have on the degree of grief experienced by these women. It was also a goal of this study to determine if the amount of grief was similar for both groups of mothers. Data was collected through original questionnaires from women who have participated in H.A.N.D. (H.O.P.E.'s Aid in Neonatal Death) support services and from DePelchin Faith Home's Post Adoption Counseling Services. The statistical test used to determine the similarity between groups was the t-test for two independent samples. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the relationship between variables. Results indicated that both groups are similar in their degree of grief, attachment, and perceptions of social support. It was also determined that mothers' grief is directly related to attachment. However, grief was found to be inversely related to perceptions of social support. This study also supplied additional knowledge of the attachment process by emphasizing the importance of the mother's anticipation of the birth and talking to the baby in útero. Recommendations were made to further professional and overall societal knowledge of the attachment and grief processes through expansion of educational programs, workshops, and in-service training. Suggestions were made to expand such services as parental support groups and post adoption counseling as emphasized by the expressed need of the mothers in this study. Recommendations were also made for further research in the areas of paternal attachment processes, longitudinal studies of maternal grief, and further study of characteristics of the high versus low grieving mother.



Mother and child, Perinatal death--Psychological aspects, Bereavement--Psychological aspects