Love and death: Relational metaphors following the death of a child

Laura R. Umphrey, Joanne Cacciatore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Recognised as one of the most painful human experiences, the purpose of this study was to uncover the relational and metaphorical themes embodied in bereaved parent narratives following the death of a child. Using a grounded approach, 420 narratives were analysed. Results of the study found (a) relational trajectory, (b) grief/coping, and (c) communication as prominent relational themes. In the present study, bereaved parents often described their conjugal relationship metaphorically as being in motion, as a living organism, and as on a journey. Grief was primarily described metaphorically as a type of journey. Communication was metaphorically described in terms of being open or closed. Discovering the experiences of bereaved parents adds to our knowledge about how the stress of child death impacts relational resiliency. Implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4
JournalJournal of Relationships Research
StatePublished - 2014


  • bereavement
  • child death
  • communication
  • grief
  • metaphor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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