Nurses' Experiences of Grief Following Patient Death: A Qualitative Approach

J Holist Nurs. 2018 Sep;36(3):228-240. doi: 10.1177/0898010117720341. Epub 2017 Aug 27.


Purpose: To explore the lived experiences of nurses' feelings, emotions, grief reactions, and coping mechanisms following their patients' death.

Background: On a daily basis, nurses are experiencing patients' death, which exposes them to grief. Nurses' grief has not been sufficiently addressed in practice settings, although it has been a well-known threat to health and work performance.

Design: A qualitative design guided by a phenomenological approach was adopted.

Method: Data were collected from a purposive sample of 21 Jordanian nurses by conducting three focus groups and analyzed using Colaizzi's framework.

Findings: Four themes were generated in which participants reported feelings of grief following their patients' death. Their grief emotions were reported as sadness, crying, anger, shock, denial, faith, fear, guilt, fear of the family's reaction, and powerlessness.

Conclusions: The study provided evidence that nurses respond emotionally to patients' death and experience grief. Nurses are burdened by recurrent patients' deaths and try to cope and overcome their grief. This study emphasizes the importance of developing strategies to help nurses positively cope with their grief from a holistic perspective. This will reflect positively on the nurses' performance.

Keywords: Jordanian nurses; death; dying; experiences; grief; qualitative; support.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Jordan
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Support