Parents Project


A wife who loses a husband is called a widow.
A husband who loses a wife is called a widower.
A child who loses his parents is called an orphan.
There is no word for a parent who loses a child.
That’s how awful the loss is.

Jay Neugeboren – An Orphan’s Tale – 1976


If traumatic emotions such as anger, desperation and panic become chronic, they can undermine the emotional stability and cause a pathological personality disorders in bereaved parents.
The elaboration of grief in parents who lose a child can follow two trajectories:

  • Cognitive and relational responses focused on the loss.
  • Cognitive and relational responses aimed at reorganization.

One is not more adaptive than the other: personality and temporal orientation features influence reactions to bereavement. In order to maximize the effect of psychotherapy, it is important to evaluate the risk and protection factors of complicated grief.

It was with this objective that the “Parents Project” was developed and launched.

What it is

“The Parents Project” is a pilot research project aimed at defining standards, solutions and recommendations for the psychological and social management of physiological and complicated grief in parents who have lost children to cancer. The project is relevant to the implementation of legislation regulating palliative care delivery in Italy. Bereaved parents find incomparable support and understanding throughout the grieving process within a support group, guided by experienced bereavement counselors, with the specific aim of preventing complicated grief.

In Italy

The majority of significant studies come from international scientific literature and, therefore, refer to different countries populations (U.S., Canada, Australia, UK, etc.) and to anthropological, social, cultural, religious and economic contexts somewhat different from those in Italy.
Therefore, there is imperative a need to examine and compare these studies with the Italian socio-cultural context.
The “Parents Project”, supported by the Maruzza Foundation, provides parents coping with bereavement with an opportunity to share and exchange experiences and, at the same time, interact with qualified councilors who can provide appropriate psychological support whilst studying the grieving process.