Parent–physician bereavement meetings may benefit parents by facilitating sense making, which is associated with healthy adjustment after a traumatic event. Prior research suggests a reciprocal relationship between sense making and positive emotions. We analyzed parents’ use of emotion words during bereavement meetings to better understand parents’ emotional reactions during the meeting and how their emotional reactions related to their appraisals of the meeting. Parents’ use of positive emotion words increased, suggesting the meetings help parents make sense of the death. Parents’ use of positive emotion words was negatively related to their own and/or their spouse’s appraisals of the meeting, suggesting that parents who have a positive emotional experience during the meeting may also have a short-term negative reaction. Language analysis can be an effective tool to understand individuals’ ongoing emotions and meaning making processes during interventions to reduce adverse consequences of a traumatic event, such as a child’s death.
- actor–partner interdependence
- language analysis
- meaning making