Why is it just so hard? Making sense of end-of-life communication between adult children and their terminally ill parental figures

The aging population in the United States is predicted to become one fifth of the population by 2050. With that increase, more individuals in the country will be experiencing chronic health conditions and the need for care, with end of life (EoL) becoming more of a topic that needs to be discussed. This study aims to explore the ways adult children talk to their parents about EoL, death, and dying. We discovered six themes: protection, meeting needs, guilt and regret, control, family dynamics, and communication type. Each of these was prevalent in responses to how adult children cope, how they cared for their parent, and how hope played into the interactions. We believe these themes will be helpful in developing a quantitative scale to study EoL further and be practical in helping adult children cope following death of their parent.

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