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Understanding Grief and Bereavement in the Palliative Care Setting




Nurses are surrounded by grief every day, in their personal lives, social environments and in the workplace. Health professionals are regularly exposed to the grief of people in their
care. For nurses working in palliative care, the daily immersion in the grief of people and their families requires in-depth understanding and the development of skills to support both themselves and others. There is no universally agreed framework or template for assessing, monitoring or managing grief. There continues to be divergent views on identifying complex grief responses and the value of specialist counseling for people who do not demonstrate ‘complex’ grief. In the meantime, nurses are required to support grieving people on a daily basis and manage the impact that this work has on them personally. The one theme that is validated by the research community is the importance of storytelling for grieving people as a vehicle to create a sense of meaning around their loss. This chapter will outline a number of ‘understandings’ in relation to grief and bereavement and how these may be applied in a clinical setting. It will equip nurses to facilitate the narrative and support the people in their care to begin creating meaning around their experience. There are also a number of tools included that may be adapted for an individual client base, mindful that no single tool will be a universal panacea.


Contents include

  • Grief is not a linear process
  • The nature of grief and bereavement
  • Grief does not have a ‘start’ and an ‘end’
  • People grieve for the loss of different things
  • Grief is holistic
  • Bereavement risk can be identified.
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Author / Editor Biographies

RN, FRCNA, FAICD, AFCHSM, MAIPC and MACA.
Molly Carlile is the Deathtalker. She lives her motto The more we talk, the less we fear by encouraging people to have informed conversations about death and grief in order to demystify and de-stigmatise these experiences. To this end Molly has embraced the arts as a vehicle for creating a safe space for these conversations to occur and as a result has become a regular media commentator, author and playwrite in addition to maintaining her senior management role in the healthcare sector. A published author, her first book, Jelly Beans Secret, published in 2005 has been used widely as a t...

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