Bereavement is usually thought of in the context of someone dying, which of course it is but there are many other times when people experience bereavement and as nurses we need to recognise this and be able to support people in reaching some sort of acceptance. People can experience grief and sorrow at losing a limb, a breast or being disfigured. Many people feel bereaved when a child leaves home for the first time or friends move away. For carers and friends supporting a dying person they can often experience anticipatory grief or in the case of someone whose partner has dementia or cognitive impairment grief for the loss of the person they knew.
We need to be able to discuss peoples feeling with them, if appropriate signpost them to support networks, involve other colleagues – for people of faith their Church, mosque, synagogue may provide comfort and in the NHS the Chaplaincy service can be helpful.
We also need to acknowledge that non family members and professional can experience grief when someone they are caring for dies. In care home settings other residents are also bereaved and need support. Grief affects everyone differently and we need to understand the normal grieving process, how it can manifest itself and recognise when it is more complex and signpost people to specialist help. The following resources may be of help to you in ensuring that you are able to support yourself, colleagues and the people you care for when they are grieving.