City Research Online

A mother’s eternal role within the family unit

Brill, E (2019). A mother’s eternal role within the family unit. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Despite there being extensive research on Early Parental Death (EPD), there has been no research to date that explores the lived experience of growing up following the loss of a mother during childbirth. This is not just a historical phenomenon, but something that still affects women today, with approximately eight-hundred and thirty passing away daily, from childbirth related complications, around the globe. All previous research in the field has been conducted in developing countries using a quantitative method. More qualitative research is needed so that practitioners in the field of Counselling Psychology can understand what the lived experiences is like for this group of individuals, to provide more tailored support.
This study was conducted using semi-structured interviews with seven adult participants, and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes emerged from the data: ‘The isolation of not knowing where and how I fit’, which captures the ways in which participants described their relationships with other people and society, and at times the struggles that had with this. The second superordinate theme, ‘An indescribably emptiness that cannot be replaced’, presents an account of the different ways participants talked about what was missing in their life and their experience of managing this. Finally, the last superordinate theme, ‘Findings ways to manage’, captures the ways in which participants described both retrospective and current reflections on how they have overcome their early adversity. Both the findings and the limitations of the research are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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