The article “Grieving the Loss of a Child and the Use of Online Social Support: An Exploratory Survey Study” by Gina Clarkson, Noorjahan Suhana Sheikh, and Lee Ann Johnson investigates the online grief support-seeking behaviors, psychosocial variables, and perceived support among adults grieving the loss of a child under 18 years. Conducted from May to September 2018, this survey included 26 participants who were recruited through social media and completed various assessments related to sleep disturbance, cognitive function, depression, anxiety, and self-efficacy to manage emotions (SEMA).

Key findings highlight the significant psychological impact of child loss, with participants reporting elevated levels of sleep disturbance, depression, and anxiety, alongside reduced cognitive function and SEMA. The study also reveals a positive correlation between SEMA and the feeling of being emotionally supported, indicating that those with higher confidence in managing their emotions felt more supported. Additionally, participants accessing online grief supports more frequently reported higher levels of emotional support, suggesting the potential benefits of online communities in providing solace and connection.

The majority of participants identified as female and white, with the loss ranging from recent to over 26 years prior. Most common causes of death included accidents and infections, aligning with prevalent causes of pediatric deaths in the U.S. Online supports utilized by participants varied, with private and public Facebook groups being the most frequent. Notably, the timing of accessing online support was distributed throughout the day, with a significant portion doing so between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The research underscores the enduring and profound impact of child loss on parents and highlights the role of online social support in mitigating the grief experience. It calls for further exploration into the effectiveness of online grief support compared to traditional methods, particularly for pediatric loss. The findings have implications for healthcare providers in understanding the potential of online support systems and encouraging their use among grieving individuals.

Future research is suggested to expand demographic diversity, examine the use of social media platforms for grief support more comprehensively, and explore long-term effects of online grief support. Additionally, understanding the specific aspects of online support that contribute to feelings of support could guide the development of more effective digital grief support interventions.

Sheikh, N. S., & Johnson, L. A. (2024). Grieving the loss of a child and the use of online social support: An exploratory survey study. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, , 1-9. doi: