I have a background in biological sciences. During my master’s degree, I switched to social work. I received financial support from the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education and Universiti Sains Malaysia to continue my studies in social work up to the Ph.D. level. With the support of my family, my husband Anas Abas, and my best friend Taufik Mohammad, I completed my PhD in 2016. Now, I am a Senior Lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia. I have worked at the university for seven years.

I remember reading an article in a newspaper about parents who accidentally left their children in a car in Malaysia and died as a result. This sparked a fierce debate in Malaysia. While the government felt that parents should be punished, the public preferred not to blame them because they were grieving. I was curious to know what had become of their parents. Is punishment likely to prevent future accidents? What if they grieve? Who helped them? The questions raised above inspired me to write my thesis on bereaved Malaysian parents following their child’s traumatic death. In my research, I learned that parents may experience more difficulties following a loss in terms of biopsychosocial factors. In order to prevent future losses, support, education, facilities, and awareness are more important than punishment.

At the same time, I was involved in studies on chronic illness and spirituality in social work. Working with chronically ill and grieving people allowed me to encounter superheroes in real life. Living with chronic illness or loss requires extraordinary courage to overcome these challenges. The way they thought and coped with challenges inspired me. I am fortunate to have worked with superheroes. Even though some people call my research depressing, I have learned a lot from the people I met.

I am now a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Tampere University, under the supervision of Adjunct Professor Anna Liisa Aho. I am extending my research to study parents after their children’s traumatic deaths in Finland. Anna Liisa Aho is an expert in grief studies and is currently working on several grief projects. Our current research project title is Fostering Participation Action Research to Develop an Online Bereavement Support Application to Support Bereaved Parents after a Traumatic Death of Their Child (PCARE). This study aimed to develop an online bereavement support application for Finnish bereaved parents. Participatory action research was used to ensure that the content of online grief support, such as information about grief, support, and activities, was appropriate for bereaved parents. This study allows parents to create online support systems from their own perspectives. The study started in 2022 and continues until 2024.

This study was funded by the European Commission under the Postdoctoral Fellowships – Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions program. This funding allows researchers to move within Europe or come to Europe from other parts of the world to pursue their research careers. This is for a year or two years. Funding includes a living allowance, mobility allowance, family, long-term leave, and special needs allowances. Moreover, funding is provided for the management and indirect costs associated with research, training, and networking activities. More information about this fellowship can be obtained at https://marie-sklodowska-curie-actions.ec.europa.eu/.

I strongly encourage early-career scientists to apply for this fellowship. This scholarship is very competitive with a 10-16% success rate. This fellowship will allow you to work with experts in your research field. My tip is not to give up. Get familiar with your research topic, find an expert, and submit a research proposal. Do not miss the proposal submission deadlines. You can do it!

I am currently living in Finland with my husband and a 10-year-old daughter enrolled at the Finnish International School of Tampere (FISTA). In general, we enjoy living in Finland. My daughter still has to take online tutoring in several courses, such as Mathematics, Science, and language subjects. This is to ensure she is on track with the Malaysian school syllabus. Living in Finland makes us all more grateful. I never expected to return to Europe after my research stay at the University of Barcelona, Spain in 2015. The opportunity to work at Tampere University provided me with more opportunities to learn and work professionally. I hope that the opportunity to work at the University of Tampere will encourage me to be even more successful in the future. I hope to participate in international and multidisciplinary research in the future.

Nur Atikah Mohamed Hussin.

Marie Curie Research Fellow,

Tampere University.