The death of the partial self: Mothers’ views to the death of their own young children
Hiroko Sakashita, Leader of "Chiisana Inochi"
(A self-help group for bereaved families of children who died from sickness.)
Kayoko Kurokawa, Department of Social Welfare,
Ryukoku University of Junior College
Mothers who have lost their young children often lack emotional support. The presenter is a leader of a self-help group for mothers dealing with the loss of their own infants. The groups name is, “Byogoji Izoku no Kai”, it allows mothers to share their grief. The purpose of this presentation is to report the results of interviews with 10 mothers in their late twenties and the early forties, aiming to extract characteristic categories of the mothers’ “stories” of their children’s death. The following eight characteristics were found: 1) the intimate relationship between mothers and their children, 2) the essentiality of absolute protection for the children, 3) mothers’ feelings of physical attachment to their children, 4) the synchronism of children’s five senses, 5) their children as the central symbols of mothers’ lives, 6) the end of their lives before full bloom of the childhood, 7) the missing meaning of their birth and existence of this world, and 8) constant thinking of their death, not the occasional remembrance. These results indicate that the death of their children means a death within them, and close someone. I refer to this result “the death of the partial self” because mothers often think of their children as being part of themselves. The presentation also includes suggestions regarding the needs mothers through group activities.