Fathers’ experiences of adjusting to life following partner bereavement

Photo of a dad

A significant body of research has established that the partners of people who die are at increased risk of morbidity and mortality when compared to non-bereaved peers. The death of a parent is well recognised as an adverse childhood experience associated with poorer health and social outcomes across the life-course.

Little research has been conducted into fathers’ experiences of life following partner bereavement. After the death of a parent there is often increased pressure on the surviving parent to be attuned to their children’s needs and maintain the family’s wellbeing. Support from others is often required. Presently no study has looked closely at fathers’ experiences of receiving support from others.

At this time there are no official statistics to detail the number of surviving parents in the UK whose cohabiting partners have died. By applying recent estimates of the number of children born each year in England and Wales who will experience the death of a parent before they reach 16 years of age to the whole of the UK provides an estimate of as many as 25,000 children; a significant number of affected families.

This qualitative PhD study, sought to better understand men’s experiences to learn more about how fathers can be better supported. Eighteen fathers of diverse characteristics were recruited from across the UK and thirty-five in-depth interviews were conducted.

This work is currently being written-up. Please contact Rebecca Phipps for more information about the study.


Rebecca Phipps (PhD researcher)
Shona Hilton
Kirstin Mitchell
Amy Nimegeer

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