Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Committee Chair

Lewine, Richard R.

Author's Keywords

Grief; Lost potential; Severe mental illness; Adult children


Parents of children with disabilities; Grief; People with mental disabilities--Family relationships


This dissertation is an investigation into the intensity, nature, predictors, and time course of grief that parents of adult children with a severe mental illness experience. This is an area of research that has not been fully understood or addressed by the mental health community. Parents were recruited through National Alliance on Mental illness (NAMI-KY) family support group meetings. Each participant completed a package of anonymous surveys measuring grief due to the mental illness of their child, parental burden, and vocational lost potential, as well as completing demographic information. The results of the statistical analyses indicated that parental grief begins after receiving a diagnosis, and then decreases sharply after about six years. In addition, the child's current age was found to significantly correlate with grief intensity in the parent; the negative relationship suggested that grief is higher the younger the child. These findings indicate that early intervention with the parents could be helpful in processing grief, which in turn would likely assist the adult children with managing their illness.