A Lasting Legacy of Love: Parentally Bereaved Children's Experience of Legacy Gifts
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This pilot case study of a parentally bereaved family explores how the children and surviving parent experience legacy gifts that their deceased mother has left for them. A literature search of bereavement, counselling, child development, and death studies revealed a paucity of theory and data on the psychology of legacy gifts. Therefore, a case study, emphasizing heuristics and phenomenological inquiry was used to open the question: “How does a legacy gift affect a parentally bereaved child’s grieving process?” This study provides a foundation for a recommended multiple case study from which a testable theory can be articulated. The present study and literature review support the hypothesis that legacy gifts can provide children and their surviving parent with comfort, and connection, thus facilitating the grief process, including bringing closure to the deceased’s life, acceptance of death, and facilitation of continuing bonds to the deceased. Discussion emphasizes that legacy gifts have potential to support family interactions that facilitate a psychological reworking of parental loss through successive developmental stages.