Dear Dr. Prigerson,

I just wanted to share with you the response to Ronald Kotulak’s article that we will be putting on our blog.? We have been receiving angry e-mails regarding his generalizing your study to bereaved parents.? If you or the other authors have any comments please send them off to us and we will add them to the blog.? We will also be talking about the article on our internet radio show next Thursday.? Thanks, Gloria Horsley
This is a response to the article From the Chicago Tribune Scientists measure 5 stages of Grief by Ronald Kotulak, February 20, 2007
As a bereaved parent, psychotherapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, I am distressed with Mr. Kotulak?s article taken from, ?An Empirical Examination of the Stage Theory of Grief?, Jama, Vol. 297, February 21, 2007.? This was an important study done by Maciejewski, Zhang, Block, and Prigerson on the Stage Theory of Grief.? It is unfortunate that Mr. Kotulak has led the reader to believe that this study could be generalized to bereaved parents.? While there has been a great deal of research regarding widow?s responses to death there has been little regarding bereaved parents.? Since the majority of the sample (83%) of 233 bereaved individuals with a mean age of (62) were spouses of the deceased and the other (16%) who were called ?remaining participants? and said to be adult children, parents, or siblings of the deceased.? We have a missing piece of information here.? Just exactly how many parents were there in the study, couldn?t have been many??
Nothing in the JAMA article is given on the, ?remaining participants?. Yet, Mr. Kotulak uses as his prime example Christine Reilly, 39, of Whitman, Mass whose son Michael died in 1999.? As a bereaved parent I would like to say that by generalizing this study to bereaved parents Mr.? Kotulak has done huge disservice to all those who have lost children.? As a clinician it concerns me that Mr.? Kotulak would use a bereaved mother as his example and then quote Paul Maciejewski, as saying, ?Acceptance is the norm in the case of natural deaths, even soon after the loss?, and then Ms Prigerson as saying ?This would suggest that people who have extreme levels of depression, anger or yearning beyond six months would be those who might benefit from a better mental health evaluation and possible referral for treatment?.? Would anyone in their right mind really say these things to a bereaved parent?
Gloria C. Horsley Ph.D
National Board Member of The Compassionate Friends
Host of Healing The Grieving Heart
188 Minna Street, 38D
San Francisco, Ca 94105

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