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Cancer Nurs. 1994 Aug;17(4):318-25.

Nurses' grief.

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City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, California.


Bereavement, a well-established threat to health and work performance, is one of the most universal human responses that nurses experience. Because patient death is frequent, oncology nurses commonly experience bereavement; they may identify with the family, feel sad at the death, or feel awkward in responding to a death. After patients die, nurses manage bereavement tasks such as making sense of the death, managing mild to intense emotions, and realigning relationships. These tasks become more difficult when multiple deaths are encountered or when a conflict about the death occurs. Understanding theories, models, tasks, and factors influencing their bereavement may help nurses to facilitate their own grief and to reduce bereavement overload. The purpose of this article is to review knowledge and factors that influence nurses' bereavement and offer guidelines for managing grief. Information for this article was derived from several sources: (a) a review of existing literature; (b) clinical experience; and (c) analysis of personal inventories from over 300 nurses attending the authors' bereavement workshops.

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