Grieving Together and apart: Bereaved parents contradictions of marital interaction

Paige W. Toller, Dawn O. Braithwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The researchers adopted relational dialectics theory (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996) to examine the discourse of 37 bereaved parents. Research questions guiding the study were what dialectical contradictions do bereaved parents experience when communicating with their marital partner after their child's death and how do bereaved parents and their marital partners communicatively negotiate the dialectical contradictions they experience? Our analysis revealed that bereaved parents experienced a dialectical contradiction between trying to grieve their child's death together as a couple and apart as individuals. Likewise, parents experienced a contradiction between being both open and closed when talking with one another about their child's death. Results describe how parents negotiated these contradictions, and implications for professionals are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-277
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Grieving
  • Marital Partners
  • Parental Bereavement
  • Relational Dialectics Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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