The bereavement experiences of family caregivers with uncomplicated grief




Cairns, Moira

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This study explored the experiences of bereaved family caregivers (FCGs) with uncomplicated grief in hospice palliative care and what they found helpful and challenging in their adjustment to the loss of the person for whom they were caring. The cumulative effects of both caregiving and bereavement can be detrimental to FCGs’ physical, social, and mental well-being. Many FCGs with uncomplicated or normal grief ask for assistance in bereavement. Yet, in the bereavement care literature, there is uncertainty about what may be beneficial to them and how best to support them. An interpretive descriptive design was used for this study of eleven bereaved FCGs with uncomplicated grief. The FCGs included five daughters, 5 spouses (2 wives, 2 husbands, 1 same-sex partner), and one sibling who had cared for a dying family member and who ranged in age from 23 to 76 years. All participants resided in the Vancouver Island Health Authority – South Island region. Data were collected through eleven in-depth interviews and one focus group. Data were analyzed using inductive analysis. The FCGs reported that the impact of loss was experienced as a magnitude of changes in their everyday lives, the loss of the connection with the cared-for person, and changes within themselves. They also reported a need for a safe community in which to grieve where they had quality relationships and/or shared common experiences of loss with others. Finally, the FCGs reported active engagement in their adjustment in bereavement that included such strategies as remembering the person who died, striving for balance, and awareness of personal growth. The findings from this study have the potential to assist health care and other professionals to understand the bereavement experiences of FCGs in hospice palliative care and to inform bereavement care for FCGs with uncomplicated grief.



family caregivers, bereavement, palliative care, uncomplicated grief