Adult Child Loss 老年喪子之痛
Apart from elder abuse, adult child loss which is another substantial issues adversely influences the well-being of the elderly. The loss of an adult child 老人喪子之痛 which upsets elderly is even worse than loss of their spouse (Klass, D., Silverman, P. R., & Nickman, S. L., 1996). There is a bonding between parent and child, after the adult child passed away, the elderly will keep thinking the episodes with their child. Many people are likely to focus on the impact of loss on the elderly’s functioning and meanwhile underestimate the importance of reorganization of the memory of the departed. However, it is vital to pay attention on how the elderly copes with the bereavement, which will greatly affect the elderly’s future life and well-being.
Theories related to Adult Child Loss
There are some theories explaining the impact of adult child loss on the elderly. Klass, D. (1996) posited that, mourning 哀悼 is a process that the elderly recognizes the fact of child loss with great sadness and makes adjustment to this change. Also, this process is hard to be completed, at the beginning, the reorganization of the stuff that is related to the deceased keeps adversely changing the functioning of the old parents in both obvious and subtle ways. After a while, the elderly may adapt the world without their loved one, and admit the truth of losing child in both conscious and unconscious ways. At the later stage of mourning, some permanent changes such as changes in personality and behavior will be made. Besides, some of the stuff of the departed that are always taking possession of the parents’ heart will be normalized as while some of the pain will be relieved.
Apart from mourning, resolution is another process the old parent may experience, which is “supplements and continue beyond adaptation and/or coping with loss” (Klass, D., 1996). Parents isolate themselves from the real world to focus on the recollected relationship between them and their dead child. However, the influence of resolution is depending on the individuals. If the one becomes more clam and mobile with the recollection of the departed, resolution is good for them; if the one obsesses with it and becomes more depressed or anxious, resolution is bad for them.
Possible Impacts on Well-being
Aside from bringing permanent changes of personality and behavior, the loss directly affects the well-being of the old parents. At the psychological and emotional aspects, the parents may experience the identity loss and feel guilty. They may be hurt with the damaged sense of self; feel lost about their identity as a parent. If the one who passed away is their only child, they may wonder whether or not they can still call themselves as a parent. Nonetheless, if the child was died with social stigma, such as suicide, drug abuse, the parents may feel guiltier on it, they would keep thinking “could I do something to stop this tragedy to happen?” If the answer is yes, they would blame on themselves and feel guilty about that. Also, it would leave a huge void in their daily routine with more grief and feeling of loss. Aside from the psychological and emotional aspects, the other aspects are also influenced. Some elderly may lose their financial support, and the daily living becomes more difficult than before, their financial well-being is thus influenced. Some elderly cannot get over the child loss, live with the pain, and thus isolate themselves from the society, affect their social well-being. If the parents have their religious belief, which is not the belief of their dead and loved one, the parents may upset and be confused and worry about whether or not they can meet in the heaven. Also, the worse well-being in other aspects would also affect the physical health of the older adult and put them into a worse situation. For instance, sadness affects the appetite, elderly who is still in the grief may eat much less is likely to get malnutrition.
Suggestion for Compensation for the loss
With the loss of an adult child, the well-being of seniors is likely deteriorating. To assist them to overcome this tough affair with less impact of their well-being, some services are recommended to provide to the losing child elderly. For these elderly, visiting is a comfortable way to assess the elderly’s basic well-being and it also gives them sense of love and care. Staff can understanding their basic needs and situation of well-being from the visiting and then provide the assistance to them to back to their normal living. For the frail older people, who are less capable of taking care of themselves, Home for the Aged (老人院) may be another way out for them. With the company of other older people, older people can join different activities at the home for the aged. For details, older people and their family can ask the organizations(社會企業) those providing elderly services (安老服務) .