Until Death Do Us Part: Adult Relatives' Experiences of Everyday Life Close to Persons with Mental Ill-Health

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2016 Aug;37(8):602-608. doi: 10.1080/01612840.2016.1192707. Epub 2016 Jun 21.


This study illuminates adult relatives' experiences of everyday life close to a person with mental ill-health. The study was based on nine diaries and four narrative interviews with relatives of people with mental ill-health. Data were subjected to qualitative content analysis. The participants experienced everyday life as a constant fight, for better and for worse, with psychiatric care. They were fighting for the mentally ill person's right to care; sometimes they felt resigned, but yet they had a confidence in the care. Their mission in life was to sacrifice themselves, meaning that they felt indispensable and became lonely and socially isolated. They considered their mission to last until death set them apart because they were keeping a family secret, and had great worries about the future. We conclude that relatives experience a two-folded stigma in living close to a person with mental ill-health and in becoming lonely and socially isolated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emotions*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Isolation