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Death of a Parent

In the midst of the busiest years of our lives and careers, just as many of us are beginning to confront our own aging, we are likely to lose a parent--and as commonplace, even expected, as any such event may be, the reperscussions can be dramatic. This book sets out in clear and comprehensive terms what the death of a parent means to most adults--how it in fact functions as a turning point in our emotional, social, and personal lives. Drawing on her own groundbreaking research, in-depth interviews, and data collected nationwide, Debra Umberson explores the social and psychological factors that determine how this important loss will affect us--as a personal crisis or an opportunity for healthy change. Her book shows how adults, far from the "finished" beings we are often assumed to be, can be profoundly transformed by the death of a parent--in beliefs, behavior, goals, sense of self--transformed in ways that will continue to affect us, for better or worse, for the rest of our lives. Debra Umberson is Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the only scholar to have published on the topic of parental death in adulthood using national data, and her resume includes 36 published articles and chapters in leading academic journals and books on family and health topics. Dr. Umberson has received many awards. She won an award for her research for Death of a Parent from FIRST Award from the National Institute on Aging. Umberson's newest research, which is also sponsored by the National Institute of Aging, focuses on how marital quality changes over the life course. Umberson is currently serving as an elected officer of both the Mental Health Section and theMedical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (the national professional association of sociologists in the United States). She has served as deputy editor of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior and associate editor of the Journal of Family Issues. She is currently associate editor of Journal of Marriage and the Family.
Product Details

Table of Contents

1. Ordinary loss, extraordinary change; 2. Unexpected crisis; 3. Symbolic loss; 4. Turning point in adulthood; 5. Intimate relationships; 6. The next generation; 7. The parent left behind; 8. My brother's keeper; 9. Rite of passage; Appendix: data and methods; Notes; Index.

About the Author

Debra Umberson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. She is an expert on intimate relationships and health. Using in-depth interviews and national surveys, she explains why the death of a parent has strong effects on adults, often for the worse, but sometimes for the better. She has written numerous articles on marriage and divorce, parent/child relationships, and how gender roles impact men's and women's health. She is currently writing a book about couples in long term relationships, highlighting the challenges of maintaining sexual and emotional intimacy over the life course.


'Umberson comes to some truly illuminating conclusions ... This clear insightful study provides a unique combination of research-based self-help and scholarly enterprise. Highly recommended ...' Library Journal 'Provides a welcome benchmark for future research on the impact of a parent's death on an adult child. It covers a wide range of topics, and thoughtfully considers implications of the findings ... Should be of considerable interest to those who are doing research or are involved in clinical practice concerning dying, death, and bereavement.' Death Studies 'A book to be taken seriously. With so much richness of ideas, such diversity of issues addressed, and based on so much data, this book is essential reading for anyone who researches or teaches about bereavement following the death of a parent. Furthermore, this will be a useful, perhaps even cherished book for many who struggle personally with the death of a parent.' Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 'A very comprehensive review ... Umberson has provided an interesting work which spans various concerns that adults, from varying backgrounds and ages, have experienced with the loss of a parent ... impressive ... well organized ... Umberson's research makes powerful statements that resonate with one's own experiences.' Journal of Marriage and Family

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