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Social Work


This is a report of a qualitative analysis of a sample of bereaved families in which one parent died and in which children scored in the clinical range on the Child Behavior Check List. The purpose of this analysis was to learn more about the lives of these children. They were considered to be at risk of developing emotional and behavioral problems associated with the death. We discovered that many of these “high risk” children had a continuing bond with the deceased that was primarily negative and troubling for them in contrast to a comparison group of children not at risk from the same study. Five types of legacies, not mutually exclusive, were identified: health related, role related, personal qualities, legacy of blame, and an emotional legacy. Coping behavior on the part of the surviving parent seemed to make a difference in whether or not a legacy was experienced as negative.


This article was originally published in Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 46(4): 335-352. (c) 2003 Baywood Publishing Company, Inc. Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.