Depressive Symptoms Trajectories Following Child Death in Later Life: Variation by Race-Ethnicity
Kagan Mellencamp1
1Bowling Green State University

Child death is among the most traumatic experiences a parent can endure. Yet, research examining child death experienced in mid-to-late life is scant. Moreover, no study has considered how this event may influence parents’ psychological well-being differently across race-ethnicity. To fill these gaps, I applied growth curve models to the 1998-2014 HRS to address two research aims. First, I mapped trajectories of bereaved parents’ depressive symptoms and compared them to those of nonbereaved parents among adults aged 50 and older. Second, I plotted depressive symptoms trajectories separately for white, black, and Hispanic parents. Results uncovered distinct racial-ethnic heterogeneity in late-life adjustment to child death that was eclipsed when analyses were not stratified by race-ethnicity. Findings suggest that cumulative disadvantages promote resilience to child death for black and Hispanic fathers. Future research should examine adjustment to bereavement separately by race-ethnicity and gender to elucidate potential variation in short- and long-term outcomes.