'Forgotten' children: their experiences of bereavement and the possible impact of situational aspects, delineated through participant observation and phenomenology.

Project Details


The phenomenology of (complicated) grief among children and adolescents is not well studied. Moreover, the
need is stressed for more scientific research focusing on street children, in order to build a firm knowledge base and support them in improving their quality of life. Combining the limited research results in these two
fields gives reason to presume that street children, a term that can also be relevantly applied to the Belgian
context according to Gillebeert and Claes (2002), find themselves in a specific position concerning the
confrontation and dealing with loss. By means of phenomenological research and participant observation with
four street-based youth work initiatives in Flanders and two in Bolivia, answers shall be searched to the
following research questions: (1) How do children experience (changes resulting from) the loss of a person
from their microsystem (Bronfenbrenner, 1995)?, (2) What coping strategies do they adopt in order to deal
with stressors linked to this kind of loss?, (3) Do concepts like complicated grief (Melhem et al., 2007) and
childhood traumatic grief (Cohen et al., 2004), popular in Western mental healthcare, correspond to the stories these children tell concerning their thoughts, feelings and behaviors?, and (4) What situational
aspects and other variables possibly affect the experiences these children have of this kind of loss? To gain a
richer understanding of this matter, creative sessions will be organized with street children and semi-structured in-depth interviews will be conducted with youth workers.
Effective start/end date1/01/0931/12/11


  • (I)Lliteracy
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Life Span Psychology
  • Family Violence
  • Socialisation In Non-Traditional Family
  • Psychodiagnostic Methods For Children
  • Family Assessment

Flemish discipline codes

  • Psychology and cognitive sciences