Nicol J, Nyatanga B. Palliative and end of life care in nursing, 2nd ed. London: Sage Publications; 2017

Stroebe M, Schut H. The dual process model of coping with bereavement: rationale and description. Death Stud. 1999; 23:(3)197-224

When death is part of us: challenges for community nursing

02 October 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 10

For those working in palliative care, encountering death is a familiar part of their daily work. Many community care staff encounter death and dying during their professional visits to patients' homes. Death and dying episodes tend to provoke a negative impact on professionals (Nicol and Nyatanga, 2017) as they are constantly exposed to patients at the end of life, thereby being reminded of their own existential fragility. While the focus of care and support remains on the dying patient and then their family following the death, we must also consider what kind of impact these experiences have on community nurses (CNs). Nicol and Nyatanga (2017) explained how healthcare professionals (HCPs) forge caring relationships with their patients, and through this, become emotionally attached. The advent of death breaks this attachment and results in expressions/feelings of grief. Most literature on loss, including but not limited to Stroebe and Schut (1999), claim that affectionate bonds are formed as people develop relationships with each other. The claim is that the closer or stronger the relationship is, the deeper the emotional bond is between people. It therefore translates that when death occurs, the bereaved feel pain that reflects the depth of the emotional attachment. The critical point is that CNs may develop multiple relationships with these patients and consequently, may also experience multiple losses and grief episodes.

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