Bereavement stressors and psychosocial well-being of young adults following the loss of a parent – A cross-sectional survey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: The knowledge about young adults who have lost a parent to cancer is limited, and to reach a broader understanding about this group, this study used the Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement (Stroebe and Schut, 1999) as a theoretical framework. The purpose of this study was to describe loss- and restoration-oriented bereavement stressors and psychosocial wellbeing of young adults following the loss of a parent to cancer. Method: This survey used baseline data from a longitudinal study. Young adults, aged 16–28 years, who lost a parent to cancer more than two months earlier and agreed to participate in support groups held at three palliative care services in Sweden, responded to a comprehensive theory-based study-specific questionnaire. Results: Altogether, 77 young adults (64 women and 13 men) answered the questionnaire an average of five-to-eight months after the loss. Twenty percent (n = 15) had not been aware of their parent's impending death at all or only knew a few hours before the death, and 65% (n = 50) did not expect the death when it occurred. The young adults reported low self-esteem (n = 58, 76%), mild to severe anxiety (n = 55, 74%), mild to severe depression (n = 23, 31%) and low life satisfaction. Conclusion: Young adults reported overall poor psychosocial wellbeing following bereavement. The unexpectedness and unawareness of the parent's imminent death, i.e., loss-oriented bereavement stressors, might influence psychosocial wellbeing. Despite these reports, restoration-oriented stressors, such as support from family and friends, helped them to cope with the loss.


  • Tina Lundberg
  • Ulla Forinder
  • Mariann Olsson
  • Carl Johan Fürst
  • Kristofer Årestedt
  • Anette Alvariza
External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Ersta Sköndal University College
  • Karolinska University Hospital
  • University of Gävle
  • Linnaeus University
  • Linköping University
  • Stockholms Sjukhem Foundation
  • Kalmar County Council
  • Dalens Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Nursing
  • Applied Psychology


  • Bereavement, Cancer, Palliative care, Parental death, Psychosocial, Young adult
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-38
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 1
Publication categoryResearch