Middle-range theory of chronic sorrow

Image J Nurs Sch. 1998;30(2):179-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.1998.tb01276.x.


Purpose: To introduce a middle-range nursing theory of chronic sorrow that presents this sorrow as a normal response to ongoing disparity due to loss. Chronic sorrow is the periodic recurrence of permanent, pervasive sadness or other grief related feelings associated with a significant loss. The theory provides a framework for understanding and working with people following a single or ongoing loss.

Organizing framework: The model of chronic sorrow includes antecedents, trigger events, and internal and external management methods.

Scope: Theory is useful for analyzing individual responses of people experiencing ongoing disparity due to chronic illness, caregiving responsibilities, loss of the "perfect" child, or bereavement.

Sources: The theory was developed using concept analysis, critical review of research, and validation in 10 qualitative studies of various loss situations.

Conclusions: Chronic sorrow has been shown to explain the experience of people across the lifespan who encounter ongoing disparity because of significant loss. Nurses need to view chronic sorrow as a normal response to loss and, when it is triggered, provide support by fostering positive coping strategies and assuming roles that increase comfort.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Theory*