"They were here, and they still matter": A qualitative study of bereaved parents legacy experiences and perceptions


"They were here, and they still matter": A qualitative study of bereaved parents legacy experiences and perceptions


Jones MT; Albanese E; Boles JC


Palliative Medicine




child; United States; Bereavement; adult; article; human; palliative therapy; grief; young adult; sibling; quality of life; epistemology; qualitative research; language; phenomenology; caregiver; perception; genetic transcription; semi structured interview; ritual; altruism


BACKGROUND: Legacy building interventions are used in pediatric healthcare settings to help families cope with difficult healthcare experiences and typically reserved for intentional use at or near the end of a child's life. However, little is known about how bereaved families perceive the concept of legacy that these practices are meant to address. Emerging research challenges the view of legacy as a standardized, handheld keepsake item but rather as a summation of qualities and experiences that affect those left behind. Therefore, more research is needed. AIM: To explore the legacy perceptions and experiences of bereaved parents/caregivers in an effort to inform legacy-oriented interventions in pediatric palliative care. DESIGN: In this qualitative, phenomenological study grounded in social constructionist epistemology, bereaved parent/caregivers completed a semi-structured interview about their legacy perceptions and experiences. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using an inductive, open coding approach grounded in psychological phenomenology. SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Participants were parents/caregivers and one adult sibling of children (ages 6months-18years) that died between 2000 and 2018 at a children's hospital in the Southeastern United States and spoke English as their primary language. <br/>RESULT(S): Sixteen parents/caregivers and one adult sibling were interviewed. Participants' responses converged across three themes: (1) definitions of legacy, including traits and characteristics, impacts on others, and the child's enduring presence; (2) manifestations of legacy, such as tangible items, experiences, traditions, and rituals, and altruism; and (3) factors perceived to affect legacy experiences, including characteristics of the child's death and one's personal grief process. <br/>CONCLUSION(S): Bereaved parents/caregivers define and experience their child's legacy in ways and manifestations that conflict with current legacy building interventions used in pediatric healthcare settings. Thus, an immediate shift from standardized legacy-oriented care to individualized assessment and intervention is needed to provide high-quality patient- and family-centered pediatric palliative care.


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Citation List Month

August List 2023



Jones MT; Albanese E; Boles JC, “"They were here, and they still matter": A qualitative study of bereaved parents legacy experiences and perceptions,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed May 20, 2024, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/19224.