Bereaved Parents Experience Of A Hospital Memorial Service


Bereaved Parents Experience Of A Hospital Memorial Service


Kobler K; Barnes M




Journal Of Pain And Symptom Management




Understand reasons a bereaved parent chooses to
return to the hospital for a memorial service.
Identify elements of a hospital memorial service
that parents identify as most beneficial.
Original Research Background. 77% of children’s
hospitals participating in a palliative care survey reported
offering a hospital-based memorial service
(Feudtner, 2013), yet little is known about bereaved
parents’ experiences of attending such a service.
Research Objectives. This paper reports preliminary
findings from an exploratory, qualitative study
to understand: why bereaved parents choose to attend
a memorial service, what service elements parents
consider most/least beneficial, and how a hospital memorial
service can best meet bereaved parents’ needs.
Methods. Parents experiencing a perinatal, neonatal,
or pediatric death, and attending one of three yearly
hospital-based memorial services, were invited to
participate (Current n¼15). In-person, semi-structured
interviews were conducted within one month
of memorial service attendance by a chaplain
researcher trained in supporting bereaved families; interviews
were recorded and transcribed verbatim.
Each interview was coded by two members of the interdisciplinary
research team using Atlas.ti7 for data
management. Thematic analysis was applied to each
final coded transcript, followed by analysis matrices
development to look at major themes across parent
Results. This study is in the last phase of data collection,
with final analysis projected by December, 2015.
Emerging themes from 15 completed interviews
include: a sense of community with fellow bereaved
parents and the importance of others joining the parents
in remembering their child through ritual.
Conclusion. Bereaved parents who return to the hospital
for a memorial service value the opportunity to
honor their child in a supportive setting. Parents
report finding comfort in connecting to their child
through memorial service ritual.
Implications for Research, Policy or
Practice. Future research is needed to understand
the ongoing impact of memorial service attendance
on bereaved parents, including rituals they may
choose to adopt or continue after returning home.
Children’s hospitals are encouraged to establish or
further refine memorial services in support of grieving
Feudtner, et al. (2013). Pediatric palliative care
programs in children’s hospitals. Pediatrics, 132(6),


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March 2016 List


Kobler K; Barnes M, “Bereaved Parents Experience Of A Hospital Memorial Service,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed August 5, 2021,

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