Research Reports - Hidden loss: A qualitative explorative study of children living with a parent with acquired brain injury

Brain Inj. 2013 Oct 10

Kieffer-Kristensen R, Johansen KL

Abstract Primary objective: The purpose of this study was to listen to and learn
from children showing high levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms after
parental acquired brain injury (ABI), in order to achieve an in-depth
understanding of the difficulties the children face in their everyday lives and
identify possible trauma-related feelings and relational losses. Design: The
study was qualitative, using a phenomenological approach. Methods and procedure:
Fourteen children between 7-14 years of age were interviewed at home using a
semi-structured interview guide. Siblings were also invited to participate.
Results: All children were affected by their parents' ABI and the altered family
situation. The children's expressions led the authors to identify six themes,
including fear of losing the parent, distress and estrangement, chores and
responsibilities, hidden loss, coping and support. The main finding indicates
that the children experienced numerous losses, many of which were often
suppressed or neglected by the children to protect the ill parents. Conclusions:
The findings indicated that the children seemed to make a special effort to hide
their feelings of loss and grief in order to protect the ill parent. These
findings contribute to a deeper understanding of the traumatic process of
parental ABI that some children experience and emphasize the importance of
family-centred interventions that include the children.

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