|dc.description.abstract||This study deals with the pastoral counselling of elderly persons after the loss of a mature child by unnatural death. Such a traumatic event leaves a significant void in a person's life, who is already experiencing other losses, and is in the eve of their lives. With the death of a mature child, the natural order of life is turned around: the child who is supposed to live and financially and emotionally support the elderly, is no more, while they who's own passing away is imminent, are alive. Elderly parents in this position experience this situation as an existential conflict, because it is to them as if they are burying the future with their child. Because the death is one of a mature child, the elderly parent does not necessarily receive the appropriate recognition from society for the trauma they experience. To further complicate the issue is the fact that they are not usually the primary care receivers being guided along the path of mourning and acceptance - the focus, on the contrary, is usually upon the spouse and children of the deceased.
In the section dealing with basis-theoretical research, it is evident that the exceptional empathy and sympathy of God for the parent who lost a child, is repeatedly stressed by Scripture. Because of Jesus Christ's victory on the cross and also His victory over death, there is the assurance of hope for eventual healing for the traumatized parent finding himself/herself in such a situation.
From the section dealing with meta-theoretical research, it is evident that the death of a mature child is one of the most alarming and traumatic experiences any parent can go through. The process of mourning is however a natural reaction and differs from parent to parent, according to circumstances. Specific phases have been identified through which parents will go under these circumstances and it is therefore very important that both the pastoral counselor, as well as the parents, are aware of the pertinent aspects.
In the section dealing with empirical research, use has been made of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. In the quantitative section, the results obtained from questionnaires handed to a significant number of elderly parents who have lost mature children, were processed. Thereafter, in the qualitative section of the research, in depth interviews were conducted with two sets of parents from the original group. It became evident
that this process of discussion had a significant healing and therapeutic effect on parents dealing with the loss of a mature child.
In the section dealing with the practice theoretical research, a model has been formulated by which pastoral counsellors and ministers can generally assist elderly parents after the death of a mature child.||