1st Edition

Understanding Bereaved Parents and Siblings A Handbook for Professionals, Family, and Friends

By Cathy McQuaid Copyright 2021
    298 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    298 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Understanding Bereaved Parents and Siblings is based on lived experiences and provides insight, ideas, and inspiration on how to support the bereaved, how to talk to them about their experience, and how to help people manage their own shock or grief.

    Part I of the book contains ten stories from parents and six from siblings sharing their experiences. Each narrator discusses their relationship with the person who died; what led up to the death; the impact of the loss on the speaker; as well as what helped and what hindered them in their grief. Part II is aimed at professionals and draws on various topics such as grief and bereavement models, transgenerational loss, resilience, protection, and creative ways of working with grief.

    The book will be an essential read for the bereaved and the professionals, family, and friends who are supporting them.

    Introduction; Part I; 1: We are forever changed by this experience; 2: "Stillbirth is such a taboo subject": Claire’s story remembering her daughter Emilie; 3: "How many children do you have? It's just something I hate": John’s story remembering his daughter Emilie; 4: "There was this crowd of women all wailing": Elisa’s story remembering her daughter Ellen; 5: "Nobody foresaw that she would die so quickly": Joanne’s story remembering her daughter Rebecca; 6: "Goodbye, have a good evening, take care": Julia’s story remembering her daughter Pippa; 7: "I'm sorry to say he's dead": Steffy’s story remembering her son Jason and her brother Matthew; 8: "They laughed at me and said, you've got to be joking": Nancy’s story remembering her daughter Angel; 9: "I think I was in shock for a year": Carol’s story remembering her son David; 10: "Tell mum not to worry. I'm going to the pure land": Susan’s story Remembering her son Michael; 11: "What more could we have done?": Wilf and Kath’s story remembering their son Michael; 12: "Her horror penetrated me": John’s story remembering his brother Jamie; 13: "They’re just living in their lovely little bubble and my bubble burst": Rose’s story remembering her older sister Lizzie; 14: "Everything was coming together for him": Shireen’s story remembering her brother Tariq; 15: "Don’t judge my life on the chapter that you came in on": Beth’s story remembering her brother Jim; 16: "Jacky was my most significant security base": Edward’s story remembering his brother Jacky; 17: "I think you have a sister": Sally’s story remembering her sister Rose; 18: The ABC of grief; 19: Living with loss; 20: Transformational loss; Part II; 21: Models of grief and bereavement; 22: Transgenerational loss and Family Constellations; 23: Resilience, grief, and grief disorder; 24: Protection and self knowledge; 25: Creative ways of working with loss.


    Cathy McQuaid is a bereaved mother. She is also a researcher, psychotherapy supervisor, and trainer. She decided to use her skills to undertake a research project to help her understand her own grief and the responses and behaviours of those around her. This book is the outcome of that research.

    'Grief can be shattering, immobilising and erode a sense of self and the profound impact on parents and siblings can be long-term; we know this. However, it can also provide an immeasurable opportunity for reflection, insight and change. As such, while grief can last a lifetime, it can also be a transformational experience. Cathy McQuaid, in this superbly written text – that skilfully manoeuvres between moving insight and academic authority – provides us all with a new narrative of grief, which has the opportunity to change and shape our future understanding.'

    Dr Andrew Reeves, Associate Professor in the Counselling Professions and Mental Health, and BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist

    'A well-researched, sensitively written and diverse account of the phenomenology of the death of a child/sibling, a taboo subject. It’s uniqueness rests in the detailed, highly varied, personal accounts of loss. The author makes a highly significant contribution towards the lifting of this taboo.

    This book will interest anyone in the fields of mental-health, general practice, social work, nursing, paediatrics, bereavement/social studies. It will also be valued by bereaved parents/siblings. All these groups will read moving stories of forms of resilience in the most challenging of experiences.'

    Robin Hobbes, UKCP Registered TA Psychotherapist, Co-Founder of Elan and EATA Ethical Advisor 

    'In writing from her heart, Cathy McQuaid shares with the reader her personal loss, which led to research, as an anchor in her unmoored world. This moving and profoundly sensitive book is grounded in unfolding stories of the experiences of others as ways to make sense of these events, courageously giving voice about their loss.

    This unique book offers a three-fold reader interest: for parents and siblings experiencing similar tragedies, for professionals and students to enhance their learning and for family members and friends of bereaved parents and siblings, weaving a delicately framed tapestry of help to support the bereaved.'

    Dr Kathy Raffles, FBACP, FNCP, Counsellor, Supervisor, and Trainer

    'Dr Cathy McQuaid has written a most comprehensive book with many coping strategies and many ways to best remember our loved ones. I know you will gain strength from reading her book.'

    Gloria Hunniford, OBE