Effect of Relationship-to-Deceased and Military Pride on Adaptive Grief Reactions in Parentally Bereaved Children of U.S. Service Members

During the ten years following the start of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, approximately 14,000 children have lost parents. However, there have been no investigations of grief outcomes or potential predictors of these outcomes in parentally-bereaved U.S. military children. This study examines the relations between six theorized risk/resilience factors (i.e., relationship to the deceased, current stress, current parental attention, family schedule, ongoing connection to military community, and pride in deceased’s military service) and adaptive and maladaptive child grief outcomes in 53 military children, ages 5 to 17 years. Six domains of child grief were measured using the Multidimensional Grief Reactions Scale (MGRS; Layne, Kaplow and Pynoos, 2011). Neither time since death nor circumstances of death were associated with grief reactions in any domain. However, significant associations were found between high importance of relationship to deceased and adaptive separation related grief reactions, as well as pride in the deceased’s military service and adaptive existential grief reactions. Preliminary findings suggest that certain contextual factors, (e.g., military pride) may promote adaptive grief reactions in bereaved military children.