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Death of a Parent
Transition to a New Adult Identity


  • Date Published: January 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521012966

£ 22.99

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About the Authors
  • When a parent dies, most adults are seized by an unexpected crisis that can trigger a profound transformation. Using in-depth interviews and national surveys, Dr Umberson explains why the death of a parent has strong effects on adults and looks at protective factors that help some individuals experience better mental health following the death than they did when the parent was alive. This is the first book to rely on sound scientific method to document the significant adverse effects of parental death for adults in a national population. Exploring the social and psychological risk factors that make some people more vulnerable than others, readers will come to view the loss of a parent in a new way: as a turning point in adult development.

    • First book to rely on national, longitudinal data - the gold standard of research, making it scientifically sound
    • Features in-depth interviews which illustrates the major psychological effects
    • Written clearly and without jargon with the non-specialist in mind
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Umberson comes to some truly illuminating conclusions … This clear insightful study provides a unique combination of research-based self-help and scholarly enterprise. Highly recommended …' Library Journal

    'Provides a welcome benchmark for future research on the impact of a parent's death on an adult child. It covers a wide range of topics, and thoughtfully considers implications of the findings … Should be of considerable interest to those who are doing research or are involved in clinical practice concerning dying, death, and bereavement.' Death Studies

    'A book to be taken seriously. With so much richness of ideas, such diversity of issues addressed, and based on so much data, this book is essential reading for anyone who researches or teaches about bereavement following the death of a parent. Furthermore, this will be a useful, perhaps even cherished book for many who struggle personally with the death of a parent.' Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

    'A very comprehensive review … Umberson has provided an interesting work which spans various concerns that adults, from varying backgrounds and ages, have experienced with the loss of a parent … impressive … well organized … Umberson's research makes powerful statements that resonate with one's own experiences.' Journal of Marriage and Family

    '… the book contains many reassuring snippets of advice for 'adult orphans', and the reflections of the interview participants will surely be of interest to others in similar circumstances, allowing them to compare and normalise their own responses.' Cruse Bereavement Care

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521012966
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 222 x 141 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Ordinary loss, extraordinary change
    2. Unexpected crisis
    3. Symbolic loss
    4. Turning point in adulthood
    5. Intimate relationships
    6. The next generation
    7. The parent left behind
    8. My brother's keeper
    9. Rite of passage
    Appendix: data and methods

  • Author

    Debra Umberson, University of Texas, Austin
    Debra Umberson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. She is an expert on intimate relationships and health. Using in-depth interviews and national surveys, she explains why the death of a parent has strong effects on adults, often for the worse, but sometimes for the better. She has written numerous articles on marriage and divorce, parent/child relationships, and how gender roles impact men's and women's health. She is currently writing a book about couples in long term relationships, highlighting the challenges of maintaining sexual and emotional intimacy over the life course.

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