When parents lay their children to rest: Between anger and forgiveness

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17 Scopus citations


A hermeneutic-phenomenological study of 13 bereaved parents of fallen soldiers or victims of terrorism describes their grief, anger, and forgiveness in relation to their struggle with personal loss. The findings indicate anger as a major variable among participants, aroused by three sources: (i) the circumstances of the loss; (ii) the institutionalized response to the loss; and (iii) a certain policy and its makers. A salient finding is that the 'enemy,' the target of the most anger, was never the one who actually killed their son, but a political leader who participants perceived to be responsible for the loss. Forgiveness was scarcely relevant to participants. A proposed explanation focuses on the meaning of the respective representations of the dead child in the participants' inner and social worlds, and their lack of readiness for the necessary transformation of that representation. Recommendations include the institutionalized responses that may benefit the parents personally and assist them in reaching forgiveness and reconciliation with their defined enemy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-522
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Anger
  • Bereavement
  • Dead children
  • Forgiveness
  • Grief


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