Twenty-four Japanese mothers who had lost a child to cancer were interviewed periodically as part of a qualitative study, and the resulting data were analyzed to see how their perceptions of their deceased children changed over time. In the beginning of the grieving process, the mothers applied extra care to the handling of their children's remains and belongings, such as the corpse, ashes, and burial site. Once the mother had begun to adjust to the child's death, she started to feel that her child was inside or close to her. She was no longer obsessed with her child's remains and belongings. Also, her memories of the child changed, from specific, sad memories to recollections of the child's life as a whole. At the same time, her dreams about the child became positive. As a result, she developed a new relationship with her child.
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