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Keywords:

  • adolescents;
  • AIDS;
  • inclusiveness;
  • orphans;
  • South Africa

Accessible summary

  • • 
    The purpose of this study was to describe the role of inclusiveness in lessening the pain of parents death in adolescents orphaned by AIDS.
  • • 
    Data were derived from 15 AIDS orphans between the ages of 14 and 18 years.
  • • 
    The method used was focus groups with discourse analysis using four themes: grieving patterns, coping strategies, experience with loss and expectations.
  • • 
    The participants believed that including them in the illnesses, dying and funeral preparations of their parents would have facilitated their healing.

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to raise an argument that inclusiveness will lessen the pain of losing a parent among adolescents orphaned by AIDS and as a result, prevent future mental health problems that may occur because of inappropriate grieving and maladaptive coping strategies. Participation of adolescents orphaned by AIDS in decisions pertaining to their parents' illnesses and funeral arrangements, for example, may shorten the grieving process and allow for closure. The paper draws data from focus group discussions that were held with 15 adolescents orphaned by AIDS in urban South Africa. The focus group discussions that were structured around four themes: grieving patterns; coping strategies; experience with loss; and expectations. The results of the study demonstrate inclusiveness as an overarching factor in the healing process. The concept is thus a strong recommendation for mental health practice and further study.