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Sing no sad songs: Grieving the death of a young adult child from cancer

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posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Sandra ArnoldSandra Arnold
For bereaved parents the death of a child is the most tragic of all deaths. When a child dies, parents lose not only their child, but all their child represents, such as a future together and descendants. Life as they assumed it would be ends with the child’s death and the role of parent changes to that of bereaved parent. A child’s death seems to subvert the natural order. Parental grieving can be, therefore, the most devastating, the longest lasting, and the most far-reaching in its effects of all forms of grief. Although much has been written about grieving infant death, adolescent suicide and violent death, information is sparse on grieving the death of a young adult child from cancer. One of the reasons for this is that the incidence of cancer in the 18 to 25-year-old group is very rare. This thesis aims to address the gap with a creative nonfiction memoir titled Sing no sad songs and an exegesis titled Grieving the death of a young adult child from cancer. The creative work is a memoir of my own experience in dealing with the diagnosis, illness and death from cancer of my 23-year-old daughter, Rebecca. The exegesis consists of six chapters which provide a context for Sing no sad songs. Chapter one comprises a critical reflection on the inspiration and influences that informed my writing, the process I used, and issues that arose during the drafting. Chapter two contextualises Sing no sad songs within the findings of psychological and sociological theories of grief. Chapter three elaborates on these findings with an examination of spiritual perspectives on grief. Chapter four analyses the language traditionally used to describe grief and bereavement in Western societies. It concludes with an examination of the human affinity with story telling and the way in which narrative can be used as a tool to help the bereaved assimilate their grief into their changed life story. Chapter five is an analysis of creative nonfiction and examines my rationale for incorporating creative nonfiction techniques in my memoir. Chapter six concludes the exegesis. -- Abstract.


Number of Pages



Central Queensland University

Additional Rights

I hereby grant to Central Queensland University or its agents the right to archive and to make available my thesis or dissertation in whole or in part through Central Queensland University’s Institutional Repository, ACQUIRE, in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all copyright, including the right to use future works (such as articles or books), all or part of this thesis or dissertation.

Open Access

  • Yes

External Author Affiliations

Faculty of Arts, Business, Informatics and Education;

Era Eligible

  • No


Associate Professor Wally Woods ; Dr Lynda Hawryluk

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis