Avigail Ward


Using a mixed method approach, this study explored the impact of attachment styles on the grief experience of parents and guardians of a child who has a hematological or oncological illness. The grief experience was evaluated through the lenses of Chronic Sorrow, Ambiguous Loss and Anticipatory Grief. This study was conducted at the Loma Linda University Medical Center Hematology Oncology Pediatric Clinic and was completed by 106 participants who responded to a quantitative survey with open-ended questions. An open-ended questionnaire regarding the impact of the child’s illness on the couple relationship was completed by six couples. The results indicated that experienced grief is significantly lower for parents or guardians with a Secure attachment style. The degree of grief experienced by parents could be predicted by whether or not the child was currently receiving treatment, whether the child was considered cured and the time elapsed since the diagnosis was given. Healthy and unhealthy coping skills were identified within the couple relationships, which provided richness to the understanding of the experience of parents and guardians with a child who has a life threatening illness.

LLU Discipline

Marriage and Family Therapy


Counseling and Family Sciences


School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Hernandez, Barbara C.

Second Advisor

Gober, Carla

Third Advisor

Moline, Mary

Fourth Advisor

Wilson, Colwick

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Parental grief; Parenting - Psychological aspects; Loss (Psychology); Chronic diseases in children; Caregivers - Psychology

Subject - Local

Attachment styles; Grief experience; Chronic Sorrow; Ambiguous Loss; Anticipatory Grief; Couples Relationships; Coping skills



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website


Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives