How do nurses deal with their own grief when a patient dies on an intensive care unit, and what help can be given to enable them to overcome their grief effectively?


  • Lesley Spencer SRN BSc(Hons) PGDE MSc

    1. Nurse Teacher, Manchester College of Midwifery and Nursing, Mauldeth House, Mauldeth Road West, Chorlton, Manchester M21 2RL, England
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There is an expectation that nurses are good at caring for relatives on the death of a patient. Who, though, cares for the nurses? Using both a quantitative and a qualitative approach, this study looks at how nurses overcome their own grief when a patient dies on an intensive care unit. Information was first collected using a questionnaire. Personal grief, however, is a very emotive area, so a proportion of the nurses from the initial study were then asked to take part in a semi-structured interview, to explore their feelings in more depth. The quantitative data were analysed using the computer software Statistical Package for the Social Sciences and the results were related to the interview responses. This showed how nurses deal with their grief, and that many, but not all, felt that the Informal support network already present was sufficient. Some nurses, however, felt that a support group would also be helpful and some felt the availability of a counsellor would be useful. All nurses felt that more training about how to deal with their own grief was needed.