The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected older adults, not only through greater risk of illness and death but also by exacerbating underlying distress related to aging and mortality. Older adults' struggles with loneliness, fear of dying, and the sequelae of untreated medical conditions are viewed through the lens of anticipatory grief, and coping and treatment strategies are offered.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers provide the majority of care for people with Parkinson's disease (PD) in the palliative care phase. For many this is a demanding experience, affecting their quality of life.
OBJECTIVE: We set out to map the experiences of bereaved family caregivers during the period of informal care in the palliative care phase as well as after the death of their loved one with PD.
METHODS: Ten bereaved family caregivers participated in this qualitative study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and interpretative phenomenological analysis was used executed.
RESULTS: We identified four main themes. 1) Feeling like a professional caregiver: while caring for a person with PD, the family caregivers took over many roles and tasks of the person with PD.2) Healthcare professionals do not always know what PD really means. Most interviewees had negative experiences with knowledge and understanding of PD of, especially, (practice) nurses. 3) Being on your own: many respondents had felt highly responsible for their loved one's care and lacked time and space for themselves. Grief and feelings of guilt were present during the caregiving period and after death. 4) Being behind the times: to provide palliative care in line with patients' preferences and to feel prepared for the palliative care phase of PD, proactive palliative care planning was considered important. However, the interviewees told that this was most often not provided.
CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that caring for a person with PD in the palliative care phase is a demanding experience for family caregivers. They experience psychological problems for many years before and after the death of the person with PD. Increasing healthcare professionals' awareness of family and bereaved caregivers' needs may mitigate these long-term detrimental effects.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers carry heavy end-of-life (EOL) caregiving burdens, with their physical and psychological well-being threatened from caregiving to bereavement. However, caregiving burden has rarely been examined as a risk factor for bereavement adjustment to disentangle the wear-and-tear vs relief models of bereavement.
Objective/Methods: Preloss and postloss variables associated with severe depressive symptoms and quality of life (QOL) for 201 terminally ill cancer patients' caregivers over their first 2 years of bereavement were simultaneously evaluated using multivariate hierarchical linear modeling. Severe depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale score > 16) and QOL (physical and mental component summaries of the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form Health Survey) were measured 1, 3, 6, 13, 18, and 24 months postloss.
RESULTS: Caregivers' likelihood of severe depressive symptoms and mental health-related QOL improved significantly from the second year and throughout the first 2 years of bereavement, respectively, whereas physical health-related QOL remained steady over time. Higher subjective caregiving burden and postloss concurrent greater social support and better QOL were associated with bereaved caregivers' lower likelihood of severe depressive symptoms. Bereaved caregivers' mental health-related QOL was facilitated and impeded by concurrent greater perceived social support and severe depressive symptoms, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Severe depressive symptoms and mental health-related QOL improved substantially, whereas physical health-related QOL remained steady over the first 2 years of bereavement for cancer patients' caregivers. Timely referrals to adequate bereavement services should be promoted for at-risk bereaved caregivers, thus addressing their support needs and facilitating their bereavement adjustment.
The COVID-19 pandemic is anticipated to continue spreading widely across the globe throughout 2020. To mitigate the devastating impact of COVID-19, social distancing and visitor restrictions in health care facilities have been widely implemented. Such policies and practices, along with the direct impact of the spread of COVID-19, complicate issues of grief that are relevant to medical providers. We describe the relationship of the COVID-19 pandemic to anticipatory grief, disenfranchised grief, and complicated grief for individuals, families, and their providers. Furthermore, we provide discussion regarding countering this grief through communication, advance care planning, and self-care practices. We provide resources for health care providers, in addition to calling on palliative care providers to consider their own role as a resource to other specialties during this public health emergency.
Objectives: Family caregivers of people with dementia can experience loss and grief before death. We hypothesized that modifiable factors indicating preparation for end of life are associated with lower pre-death grief in caregivers.
Setting: Caregivers of people with dementia living at home or in a care home.
Participants: in total, 150 caregivers, 77% female, mean age 63.0 (SD = 12.1). Participants cared for people with mild (25%), moderate (43%), or severe dementia (32%).
Measurements: Primary outcome: Marwit-Meuser Caregiver Grief Inventory Short Form (MMCGI-SF). We included five factors reflecting preparation for end of life: (1) knowledge of dementia, (2) social support, (3) feeling supported by healthcare providers, (4) formalized end of life documents, and (5) end-of-life discussions with the person with dementia. We used multiple regression to assess associations between pre-death grief and preparation for end of life while controlling for confounders. We repeated this analysis with MMCGI-SF subscales (“personal sacrifice burden”; “heartfelt sadness”; “worry and felt isolation”).
Results: only one hypothesized factor (reduced social support) was strongly associated with higher grief intensity along with the confounders of female gender, spouse, or adult child relationship type and reduced relationship closeness. In exploratory analyses of MMCGI-SF subscales, one additional hypothesized factor was statistically significant; higher dementia knowledge was associated with lower “heartfelt sadness.”
Conclusion: We found limited support for our hypothesis. Future research may benefit from exploring strategies for enhancing caregivers’ social support and networks as well as the effectiveness of educational interventions about the progression of dementia.
This paper explores how young people who are living with a parent who is dying talk about the future. Drawing on a qualitative, interview study, I argue that young people are able to move imaginatively beyond the death of a parent, and in doing so, to maintain a sense of biographical continuity. While thinking about the future, most were able to generate an alternative to the ‘harm story’ typically associated with parental loss. Furthermore, the facility to engage with parental absence in the present enabled young people to make sense of living with dying, and gave meaning to their imagined futures. These findings suggest that young people's narratives of the future may act as a symbolic resource to draw on, albeit one requiring adequate material and social resources to construct. The paper extends the notion of continuing bonds derived from post-bereavement accounts to suggest that relational experiences of the dead begin prior to bereavement, and may facilitate everyday living in anticipation of significant loss. Enabling young people to imaginatively explore the future may support them in getting by when they are living in these difficult family circumstances.
Anticipatory grief is a concept commonly used by researchers and clinicians when talking about the experience before the death of a loved one. This article offers a critical perspective on the disciplinary, theoretical and philosophical foundations of three distinct and frequently used conceptualisations of anticipatory grief: Lindemann's, Rando's and one derived from sociology. Lindemann's perspective conceived anticipatory grief as an inevitable component of the grieving experience in the situation of impending death. Rando's perspective views anticipatory grief as a multidimensional that facilitates post-mortem mourning. The third perspective, offered by sociologists, defines anticipatory grief as an experience highly influenced by the social context of the individual. This review explains how these different perspectives influence research and concludes with a reflection for potential future research.
BACKGROUND: A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (PD) has a significant psychological impact on both the person diagnosed and their loved ones, and can have a negative effect on family relationships. Caring for someone with a long-term progressing illness may cause anticipatory grief, i.e., experienced before a bereavement. This has been widely studied in illnesses such as dementia and cancer, but less so in relation to PD. The study aims were: (I) to demonstrate the occurrence of anticipatory grief experienced by carers of people with PD; (II) to explore how this grief relates to caregiver burden and caregiver depression and demographic variables.
METHODS: Family carers of people with moderate to advanced PD (Hoehn & Yahr stages 3-5) were invited to complete a survey, including demographic questions and three questionnaires: Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI); 16-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS); and Anticipatory Grief Scale (AGS).
RESULTS: Anticipatory grief was common among carers of people with PD [mean AGS score =70.41; standard deviation (SD) =16.93; sample range, 38-102]. Though distinct concepts, carers with higher burden and depression scores also experienced more anticipatory grief symptoms. Carers experiencing higher anticipatory grief tended to be caring for someone of a younger age, displaying more non-motor symptoms, at a more advanced disease stage, and who considered either themselves and/or their loved one as depressed.
CONCLUSIONS: Carers of people with advanced PD experienced anticipatory grief, as well as depression and a high caregiver burden. To improve carer outcomes, our focus should include the period both before and after the death of a loved one, and carers should receive regular psychological assessment and support.
Purpose: Many patients with advanced cancer choose palliative chemotherapy. Considering its purpose of palliation and not treatment, it is important to consider the life of family caregivers. Family caregivers who experience bereavement undergo extreme stress, which is particularly high among patients’ spouses. The present study aims to clarify the experiences of the spouses of patients at the hospitals in Japan after the notification of palliative chemotherapy discontinuation until bereavement.
Method: We interviewed the spouses of 13 patients who received palliative chemotherapy using a semistructured interview guide. Each spouse was interviewed twice. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, and key concepts were identified using a grounded theory analytic approach.
Results: After the hospital's recommendation for palliative chemotherapy discontinuation, the spouses had “bewilderment over having to discontinue palliative chemotherapy” and experienced “difficulty in facing bereavement.” The spouses having “difficulty to give up hope for the patient's survival,” felt “bafflement over caregiving at the terminal stage,” which would be their responsibility in the future. Further, they had “hesitation in being honest to the patient” and were engaged in “knowing how to live with the patient until bereavement.“
Conclusion: Nurses need to encourage the patients and spouses to honestly express how they feel from the early stages of palliative chemotherapy. Furthermore, nurses should help spouses with how they face bereavement. This result may help prevent anticipatory grief, which may lead to excessive stress and emotional distress on the family caregivers.
Background: Determining the effect of caregiving and bereavement remains a challenge. To date, no study has employed a comparison group to investigate caregivers’ grief, quality of life and general health in relation to non-caregivers.
Aim: We aimed to determine how caregivers’ grief, quality of life and general health changed following death compared to non-caregivers and whether pre-death grief predicted these outcomes.
Design: A prospective, longitudinal study of family caregivers and a comparison group matched for age, gender and postcode was conducted. All participants completed questionnaires at four points – once pre-death and three times post-death (3–4 months, 6–7 months and 9–10 months).
Setting/participants: Participants (N = 70) were family caregivers of persons receiving palliative care, mostly for cancer, recruited from three palliative care providers in Western Australia and matched comparisons recruited from advertisements.
Results: There were significant differences between the caregivers’ and comparisons’ grief, general health and quality of life at pre-death, 3–4 months and 6–7 months post-death, but not at 9–10 months post-death. The rate of progression in these constructs following death was independent from the intensity of pre-death grief. However, caregiver prolonged grief score significantly predicted prolonged grief score at 6–7 and 9–10 months post-death.
Conclusion: It took 9–10 months for the caregivers’ grief, general health and quality of life to correspond to the comparison group. These findings present an opportunity for palliative care research and practice to consider how best to support the majority of caregivers without grief complications so that their pre- and post-death support needs are realised.
Palliative care addresses the biopsychosocial and spiritual distress of people with critical and chronic illness. Depending on the trajectory of an illness, a social worker in an acute care setting may have a limited number of opportunities to engage in meaningful interaction with an emotionally distressed patient. The social worker is often faced with providing care to a patient who is having the dual experience of maintaining hope for medical improvement and anticipating loss. This article offers therapeutic practice skills needed by social workers to address the experience of anticipatory loss in an acute care setting. Brief psychodynamic and person-centered therapy, provided in combination, are highlighted as one method to explore a patient's feelings and wishes in the face of critical illness. Case-based vignettes illustrate how five open-ended questions help mitigate suffering and heighten a patient's sense of autonomy and self-worth.
Past studies examining the relationship between preparedness for loss and bereavement outcomes among caregivers of spouses/partners with life-limiting illness did not adequately account for preloss caregiver attributes that could potentially confound the relationship. Using a sample of spouse/partner cancer caregivers (N = 226), we examined how preloss caregiver attributes were associated with how prepared one felt for loss and their role in the relationship between preparedness and later bereavement outcomes. Nearly half reported they were not emotionally prepared, and 35% were not prepared for the practical challenges associated with the loss. Although attributes such as depression, anxiety, competence in daily activities, and financial adequacy were associated with both preparedness and bereavement outcomes, regression analyses revealed that preparedness remained the strongest predictor in all models. We suggest that early interventions enhancing caregivers’ preparedness for loss may hold considerable promise for improved bereavement outcome.
A career in medicine exposes physicians to chronic illness, disability, death and dying, loss, sadness, and grief. It is doubtful, however, that such experiences with patients can match that of the physician’s taking care of his or her own loved one.
Caring for patients in a crowded docket allows for brief, episodic encounters, with little breathing space between patients. Being the physician caretaker of a loved one with terminal illness and anticipating loss, however, makes the caretaking relationship continuous. References to “the 36-hour day” characterize the demands of this perpetual work.1
The end-of-life trajectory of cancer patients in palliative care (PC) elicits an anticipatory grief (AG) process in family caregivers (FCs). Although widely recognized, AG lacks conceptual clarification. This study aims to qualitatively explore the experience of FCs of patients with terminal cancer to identify the core characteristics and the specific adaptive challenges related to AG in the context of end-of-life caregiving. Data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted in a clinical sample of 26 FCs of cancer patients in PC. Findings from thematic analysis suggest that the AG experience is characterized by traumatic distress from being exposed to life-threatening conditions and the separation distress induced by loss anticipation and current relational losses, challenging the FCs to long-term emotional regulation effort demands. These results contribute to the conceptualization of AG and may inform intervention programs for the main challenges the FCs face when adjusting to loss during end-of-life caregiving.
Background: Family caregivers in palliative care may be placed in a complicated emotional situation wherein they suffer the risk of grief reactions both pre- and postbereavement and may also experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate (1) associations between predeath grief and postdeath grief and (2) whether these are moderated by symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Design: This was a prospective correlational study. Linear regression analysis in three blocks was used to investigate associations between pre- and postdeath grief and moderation effects of anxiety and depression. Postdeath grief was used as the outcome variable and predeath grief was used as the explanatory variable in block I. The moderator variables, symptoms of anxiety, and symptoms of depression were added as covariates in block II. A multiplicative interaction term between predeath grief and anxiety/depression was added to the model in block III.
Setting/Subjects: Data were collected at 10 facilities specialized in palliative home care where health care professionals provided advanced care to patients with various diagnoses in their own homes.
Measurements: The anticipatory grief scale and the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief were used to measure pre- and postdeath grief, respectively. To measure symptoms of anxiety and depression, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale was used.
Results: A total of 128 family caregivers were included. Significant associations were found between predeath grief and postdeath grief and this association remained when controlled against symptoms of anxiety or depression. We found no moderation effect of anxiety or depression on the association between pre- and postdeath grief.
Conclusions: In conclusion, grief before and after an expected death can be regarded as parts of the same grief process. Hence, knowing the intensity of predeath grief could be a way to predict the levels of postdeath grief.
The objectives of the study were to evaluate the relationship between depression, preparatory grief, and loss of dignity in patients with advanced cancer and whether depression has a mediator and/or a mediator role between preparatory grief and dignity. The participants were 120 patients with advanced cancer who completed the Greek version of the Patient Dignity Inventory, the Greek Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and the Preparatory Grief in Advanced Cancer Patients questionnaire. Depression was highly correlated with preparatory grief and loss of dignity. Additionally, strong relationship was found between preparatory grief and loss of dignity. Mediation analyses revealed that preparatory grief influenced loss of dignity as well as indirectly by its effect on depression. However, there was not any affect of depression as moderator. The effect of depression on preparatory grief in patients with advanced cancer and dignity emphasizing the need for further research to confirm the current relationship as well as the need for treatment of depression.
OBJECTIVE: The study of predeath grief is hampered by measures that are often lengthy and not clearly differentiated from other caregiving outcomes, most notably burden. We aimed to validate a new 11-item Caregiver Grief Questionnaire (CGQ) assessing two dimensions of predeath grief, namely relational deprivation and emotional pain.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.
SETTING: Community and psychogeriatric clinics.
PARTICIPANTS: 173 Alzheimer (AD) caregivers who cared for relatives with different degrees of severity (63 mild, 60 moderate, and 50 severe).
MEASUREMENTS: Besides the CGQ, measures of caregiver burden and depressive symptoms, and care-recipients' neuropsychiatric symptoms and functional impairment were assessed.
RESULTS: Confirmatory factor analysis supported the hypothesized 2-factor over the 1-factor model, and both subscales were only moderately correlated with burden. Two-week test-retest reliabilities were excellent. Caregivers for mild AD reported less grief than those caring for more severe relatives. Z tests revealed significantly different correlational patterns for the two dimensions, with emotional pain more related to global burden and depressive symptoms, and relational deprivation more related to care-recipients' functional impairment. Both dimensions were mildly correlated with neuropsychiatric symptoms (especially disruptive behaviors and psychotic symptoms) of the care-recipient.
CONCLUSIONS: Results supported the reliability and validity of the two-dimensional measure of predeath grief. As a brief measure, it can be readily added to research instruments to facilitate study of this important phenomenon along with other caregiving outcomes.
INTRODUCTION: In palliative care, family caregivers are often faced with experiences of grief in anticipation of the loss of a close person. An instrument designed to measure this form of grief is the Anticipatory Grief Scale, which includes 27 items and has been used in several studies in various contexts. However, the instrument has not been validated.
AIM: The aim was to evaluate the psychometric properties, focusing on the factor structure, of the Anticipatory Grief Scale in a sample of family caregivers in palliative care.
METHODS: The study had a cross-sectional design. Data were collected from an intervention study in palliative home care that took place between 2013 and 2014. In total, 270 family caregivers in palliative care completed a baseline questionnaire, including the Anticipatory Grief Scale. The factor structure of the scale was evaluated using exploratory factor analysis.
RESULTS: The initial factor analysis suggested a four-factor solution, but, due to weak communalities, extensive crossloadings, and item inconsistencies, the model was problematic. Further analysis supported that the scale should be reduced to 13 items and two factors. The two subscales captured the behavioral and emotional reactions of grief in family caregivers in palliative care and were named Behavioral reactions and Emotional reactions. This modified version will hereafter be named AGS-13.
CONCLUSIONS: This validation study of the Anticipatory Grief Scale resulted in a revised two-factor model, AGS-13, that appears to be promising for use in palliative care but needs to be tested further.
Coping affects somatic and psychological outcomes. This article explores narratives in a book, Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers, which report on the ways of coping used by each kamikaze participant before and during military service. The purpose of this study is to observe the possibility of a trend in coping strategies and consider how these trends inform us about other populations facing imminent death. This study analyzed data and extracted meaning from the narratives in the book (thematic content analysis). Within the thematic content analysis, the Ways of Coping scale was used, which describes the coping strategies people use when facing problems. The most frequently used coping strategies before they entered the military were "Accept Responsibility," "Endurance/Obedience/Effort," and "Self-Control," while once in the military, they were "Accept Responsibility" and "Endurance/Obedience/Effort." All the coping strategies used by kamikaze pilots appeared to focus on the passive self, which may be the type of coping in other populations facing death.
Purpose: Caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD) can experience loss and grief long before the death of the person. Although such experience of caregiver grief is measurable, available scales (such as the Marwit-Meuser Caregiver Grief Inventory, MM-CGI) are lengthy and have overlaps with other caregiving constructs. We developed a briefer scale that captures the essence of caregiver grief-with comparable psychometric properties and total score to MM-CGI, as well as less overlap with other caregiving constructs.
Design and Methods: Family caregivers of community-dwelling PWD (N = 394) completed questionnaires containing MM-CGI and other caregiving scales. Initially, we split the study samples into two -the derivation sample (n = 179) was used to develop a brief scale that best predicts MM-CGI (using the best-subset approach with tenfold cross-validation), whereas the validation sample (n = 215) verified its actual performance in predicting MM-CGI. Thereafter, we evaluated the derived scale in its reliability and validity, and mapped its scores to MM-CGI using the equipercentile equating method.
Results: We derived a 6-item scale, which explained 84.1% of the variability in MM-CGI and had area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of .96 in discriminating high caregiver grief (95% CI: .94-.99). It had single dimension in confirmatory factor analysis (comparative fit index = .98; Tucker-Lewis index = .97) and maintained good psychometric properties similar to those of MM-CGI, while showing lower correlation with caregiver burden and depression. It also had scores that could be mapped to MM-CGI with reasonable precision.
Implications: We developed the first brief scale with less than 10 items that can conveniently and accurately measure caregiver grief, which opens the way for grief-related interventions in clinical care. Notably, this 6-item scale was developed using rigorous methods and demonstrated consistent evidence of capturing the essence of caregiver grief.