The experience of family members caring for a dying loved one

Int J Palliat Nurs. 2004 Mar;10(3):133-43. doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2004.10.3.12469.


Qualitative nursing research into the experience of family members caring for a dying loved one has been limited. This study used a phenomenological approach to explore this experience. The pattern of caring for a dying loved one and its intertwined dimensions were described. Caregivers felt a sense of helplessness that was associated with illness progression, their inability to relieve pain and discomfort, and decision-making related to patient admission to a palliative care unit. Lack of support from health professionals and having to face personal limits were found to accelerate the decision to admit a patient. The role of a support person involved with the caregiver was also considered and found to be an area worthy of further investigation. Health professionals must provide information and support tailored to the caregivers' needs as they change along a patient's illness trajectory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Death
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Caregivers / education
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Home Nursing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Love
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Ontario
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care / psychology*