Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Exploring 'shi du' parents' experience of death of their child
Author: Fang, Fei
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2020
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Thesis embargoed until 10 Nov 2023
Access from Institution:
There were 218 million one-child families in China in 2013 because of the one-child policy (OCP). The OCP has disrupted demographic patterns and created numerous issues for Chinese society. One lesser known problem relates to families in which the only child prematurely dies before the parents. These are known as shi du families, of which there were one million in 2010 and more are being created continuously. The problems arise because the only child is both the only recipient of their parents’ investment and the one who shoulders the responsibility for supporting the whole family and their parents in old age. The government has introduced some support policies for shi du families. But most offer financial assistance or compensation and are far from satisfactory because they lack understanding of the specific situation of shi du families under the influence of specific aspects of Chinese culture. This thesis therefore sets out to explore the research question of What impact does death of the only child have on the everyday life of shi du parents? The current research evidence shows there are discrepancies in explaining the grief experiences of shi du parents. Also that there is little understanding of how their social relationships have been affected or how shi du parents make sense of their loss and their life. These are important considerations because culturally the death of a child is regarded as being inauspicious in China and families face potential stigmatization. This thesis adopted a qualitative methodology to fill these knowledge gaps. In-depth interviews were conducted with 35 shi du parents who had no grandchildren and who lived in Henan province. Overall, the evidence from the data shows that these shi du parents go through a dynamic grief process, the consequence of which is that they believe their grief will never really pass and they cannot recover. The death of their child changed their social relationships because the parents felt stigmatized as a result of cultural beliefs in inauspicious deaths. Consequently, they could not keep some of their social relationships functioning and in reciprocal balance the way they did before and their grief reactions and behaviors were often misunderstood by others (including family members) resulting in them experiencing a disenfranchised grief. The parents also felt that their personalities were affected and their views and understanding of their lives had changed, leaving them with feelings of hopelessness and no meaningful future life.
Supervisor: Skinner, Christine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available