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Grief Experience Nurses Research Paper

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Updated: Apr 9th, 2022

There is little attention paid to the experiences of nurses after patients die due to the paucity of scientific information on this topic. Literature has confirmed that nurses grief when they lose their patients, but there is no literature to tell how these nurses grieve, and especially in the perinatal units. Evidence-based nursing is always seeking better ways to improve the performance and healthcare delivery of nurses to their patients. Amidst this interaction, nurses develop a bond with their patients, and literature asserts that nurses will grief the loss of a life they were trying to save (Jonas-Simpson, Pilkington, MacDonald & McMahon, 2013).

On the other hand, this population is left out, and little is known about how they grief and try to overcome their grief. Unfortunately, nurses are not prepared for such occurrences during training. This study is important because it highlights the essence of developing a more integrative education curriculum for nurses in preparation for loss of patients, which is inevitable in their profession.

It is due to the research gaps highlighted above that the article, “Nurses’ Experiences of Grieving when there is a Perinatal Death” by Jonas-Simpson et al. (2013, p. 1-11) focused on exploring the experiences of grieving nurses in the obstetric division after perinatal death. This goal is two-fold because it attempts to indicate the experiences of nurses as they grief for the loss of a baby while simultaneously caring for a bereaved family, first. Secondly, it seeks to affirm the nurses as they grief, and obtain their views on the effect of such support on nursing practice. Guided by a theoretical framework, the research question for the study was

“What is the experience of grieving for obstetrical and neonatal nurses caring for families who experience perinatal loss” (Jonas-Simpson et al., 2013, p. 2).

The purpose and research question are related to the study; they stem from the research problem. While the research study emphasizes that there is need to understand the experiences of the nursing staff in a never studied unit: the perinatal unit, it goes ahead to study this. There is subtle difference between the purpose, research question and problem statement since they overlap. The approach used to answer the research question was appropriate for this study. According to Burns & Grove (2011, p. 22), “a phenomenological study is an inductive descriptive approach used to describe an experience as it is lived by an individual” just like in this study.

A phenomenological study seeks to discover, not verify. Experiences are abstract and not limited to some laws or objectives. In a bid to discover these experiences, direct contact was achieved through describing the lived experiences of the nursing staff. Digital videography was used while conducting in-depth interviews. This study was qualitative in nature and sought to describe the experiences of nurses and give meaning to them: inductive reasoning. The truth about grieving can only be obtained by obtaining a detailed account of these experiences from the nurses themselves.

The literature review in this study is not broad. The authors have used different references to support their views. A government report and reference from qualitative studies have been used. Apparently, there is no use of quantitative data and studies, largely because of the absolute qualitative nature of the study. There is a mixture of both current and old information, but this can be justified by the dearth literature in this field; hence, prompting the use of old information.

In addition, the use of qualitative studies, mainly, justifies the use of old information. The authors have highlighted the weaknesses of the two studies reviewed, and these are centered on the lack of evidence about the nurses’ experiences during grieving. The authors provide an adequate argument for the need to carry out this study by emphasizing the formidable presence of loss among the nursing staff, yet no support is offered to this group of healthcare professionals.

Without prior preparation, nurses are faced with a difficult experience, and it is imperative to find out what these losses of human life do to them. The nurses are expected to continue delivering high-quality services, in some instances provide console to the bereaved family. Learning about how nurses deal with all their responsibilities despite a major setback in their profession is informative.

This study used a theoretical framework extracted from nursing perspectives that focused on meaning, presence, patterns of relating and transcendence (Jonas-Simpson et al., 2013, p. 2). In addition, concepts of grieving relevant to human science nursing perspective were also used. These concepts had a focus on meaning reconstruction, continuing bonds, and relearning the world. All of these concepts showed grieving as a process in life rather than a problem that needed fixing.

There was no framework developed from the study findings because this study adopted an interpretive phenomenological approach. The findings were merely presented in three thematic patterns and three thematic threads. The patterns are inter-woven like a tapestry, and this can be linked to the theoretical framework that sought to give meaning and patterns associated with grief.


Burns, N., & Grove, S. (2011). Understanding Nursing Research (5th ed.). Maryland: Elsevier Saunders.

Jonas-Simpson, C., Pilkington, F., MacDonald, C., & McMahon, E. (2013). Nurses’ experiences of grieving when there is a perinatal death. SAGE Open, 3, 1-11. Web.

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