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Research Article  |   January 2005
When a Child Dies the World Should Stop Spinning: An Autoethnography Exploring the Impact of Family Loss on Occupation
Author Affiliations
  • Steve Hoppes, PhD, OTR, is Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Oklahoma—Tulsa, 4502 E. 41st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74135; steve-hoppes@ouhsc.edu
Article Information
Health and Wellness / Grief and Occupations
Research Article   |   January 2005
When a Child Dies the World Should Stop Spinning: An Autoethnography Exploring the Impact of Family Loss on Occupation
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2005, Vol. 59, 78-87. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.1.78
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2005, Vol. 59, 78-87. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.1.78
Abstract

The death of a loved one disrupts family-members’ occupational lives. This paper explores the role and course of occupation during a time when my nephew died. A qualitative research methodology, autoethnography, is used to develop the narrative. I found that familiar occupations lost meaning during this time and even seemed absurd. Paradoxically, occupation helped forge a vital pathway back to health and reconstruction of meaning. Four stages of occupation during a family crisis are proposed: maintenance, dissolution, ambivalence, and restoration and adaptation. Reflections on occupational therapists’ role during family crises are discussed, as are implications for further research.