Comment réagit une mère lorsqu’elle apprend que l’enfant qu’elle porte est atteint d’une grave maladie génétique ? Comment une femme portée par sa foi chrétienne peut-elle vivre le décès prématuré de cet enfant ?
Dans son témoignage poignant, Aude Lombard montre comment la présence du Christ dans sa vie - et dans celle son mari – l’a aidée et soutenue tout au long de cet événement si particulier.
Il s’agit à la fois d’un hommage à sa fille Juliette, porteuse d’une forme rare de trisomie et décédée au cours du huitième mois de grossesse, et d’un vibrant témoignage de foi, qui montre que, malgré l’épreuve, il est possible d’en tirer du positif, avec l’aide de Dieu.
Dès l’annonce du diagnostic, à la vingtième semaine de grossesse, de nombreuses questions existentielles et spirituelles sont venus assaillir l’esprit d’Aude. Cette nouvelle a fait l’effet « d’une déflagration intérieure, mêlée d’une sidération brumeuse », écrit-elle.
Mais au terme de ce parcours de deuil, qui aura été pour elle un véritable combat spirituel, Aude peut dire : "Je sais aujourd’hui que je peux passer par des épreuves sans être détruite, voire en étant fortifiée."
Son récit est un puissant encouragement pour tous ceux qui traversent des épreuves analogues.
Grief is a common, instinctive, natural reaction that occurs following the loss of a loved one. This human experience is universal and will affect most people during a lifetime and cause a range of emotional and physical distress that can feel overwhelming and intolerable. In late life especially, people are exposed to an increasing number of losses and often grieve multiple losses at the same time. Death of a spouse is thought to be the most common and difficult loss in older adults, with nearly one-third of those aged 65 and older being widowed. Bereavement has been associated with a deterioration in mental health and physical health and thus clinicians need to be aware of the risk factors as well as the principles for treatment. This chapter explores grief in older adults including the impact grief has on an individual, the factors of “normal” grief and bereavement, complicated grief, mental health consequences of bereavement, and evidence-based practices for treatment.
Traditional Chinese art practices such as brush painting and calligraphy are thought to promote self-development through holistically engaging both physical and mental health. This pilot study investigated the beneficial effects of a community-based self-help group incorporating Chinese art practices as a culturally adapted bereavement intervention. Twenty-six Chinese parents aged over 49 years and who had lost their only child participated in a 20-session Chinese brush painting group over a 6-month period. Ten bereaved parents from the same community who did not participate in the art course but received living support were recruited as a control group. Compared with the control group, the art practice group exhibited a pre-post intervention effect in terms of promoting positive affect and preventing deterioration of prolonged grief symptoms, particularly through the improvement of accessory grief symptoms (e.g., "emotional numbness due to the loss", and "feeling that life is unfulfilling, empty or meaningless after the loss"). No effect was found on negative affect. These findings indicate that a culturally adapted community-based art group may be an effective means of improving grief-related health.
While great strides have been made in improving childhood mortality, millions of children die each year with significant health-related suffering. More than 98% of these children live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Efforts have been made to increase access to pediatric palliative care (PPC) services to address this suffering in LMICs through policy measures, educational initiatives, and access to essential medicines. However, a core component of high-quality PPC that has been relatively neglected in LMICs is grief and bereavement support for parents after the death of their child. This paper reviews the current literature on parental grief and bereavement in LMICs. This includes describing bereavement research in high-income countries (HICs), including its definition, adverse effect upon parents, and supportive interventions, followed by a review of the literature on health-related grief and bereavement in LMICs, specifically around: perinatal death, infant mortality, infectious disease, interventions used, and perceived need. More research is needed in grief and bereavement of parents in LMICs to provide them with the support they deserve within their specific cultural, social, and religious context. Additionally, these efforts in LMICs will help advance the field of parental grief and bereavement research as a whole.
BACKGROUND: Cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease for children in the United States. It is imperative to optimize measures to support patients and families facing the end of a child's life. This study asked bereaved parents to reflect on their child's end-of-life care to identify which components of decision-making, supportive services, and communication were helpful, not helpful, or lacking.
METHODS: An anonymous survey about end-of-life experiences was sent to families of children treated at a single institution who died of a malignancy between 2010 and 2017.
RESULTS: Twenty-eight surveys were returned for a 30.8% response rate. Most of the bereaved parents (61%) reported a desire for shared decision-making; this was described by 52% of families at the end of their child's life. There was a statistically significant association between how well death went and whether the parental perception of actual decision-making aligned with desired decision-making (P = .002). Families did not utilize many of the supportive services that are available including psychology and psychiatry (only 22% used). Respondents felt that additional services would have been helpful.
CONCLUSIONS: Health care providers should strive to participate in decision-making models that align with the preferences of the patient and family and provide excellent communication. Additional resources to support families following the death of a child should be identified for families or developed and funded if a gap in available services is identified.
Le deuil causé par le décès d’une personne importante est l’événement le plus difficile de la vie d’un enfant. L’expression clinique du deuil chez l’enfant dépend de différents facteurs et du niveau de développement affectif. L’état de deuil traumatique de l’enfant n’est pas reconnu par le DSM-5. Il se caractérise par des symptômes traumatiques persistants, intrusifs et de l’évitement. Dans le contexte de traumatismes de masse, les enfants endeuillés présentent un risque élevé de complications de type biopsychosociaux. Un enfant sur cinq développera des complications. Il est important d’évaluer ces enfants afin de mieux comprendre leur fonctionnement et de proposer une thérapie ciblée et fondée sur des preuves. Développer des recherches sur ce sujet est un véritable défi pour la pédopsychiatrie.
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.
PURPOSE: Perinatal and neonatal palliative care guidelines recommend the provision of photographs and other mementos as an element of care for parents bereaved by neonatal loss. However, little is known about parents' perceptions of such bereavement interventions. This study explored the significance of memory-making for bereaved parents and the impact of memory-making on parents' experience of loss following neonatal loss.
DESIGN AND METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 18 bereaved parents. A grounded theory approach informed by Corbin and Strauss was used to underpin data sampling, data collection and data analysis. A constant comparative approach was used to engage in open, axial and selective coding to distil parents' stories into categories supporting a core concept.
RESULTS: "Creating evidence" emerged as a key theme in the grounded theory of memory-making in bereavement care for parents following neonatal loss. Creating evidence involved taking photographs, creating mementos, as well as involving friends and family during the baby's time in the Neonatal Unit.
CONCLUSIONS: Creating evidence affirmed the life of the baby and the role of the parents. Creating evidence was a significant element of memory-making that had a positive impact on parents' experience of bereavement.
PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Parents should be supported to create evidence of their baby's life, through taking photos, creating mementos, and involving others in their baby's care. Such interventions provide affirmation of the baby's life and of the individual's role as a parent.
Caregiving and bereavement outcomes are strongly influenced by socio-cultural context. Past research has found higher levels of caregiver burden and psychological morbidity in Portuguese compared to Brazilian caregivers. This study compared Brazilian and Portuguese family caregivers in palliative care to identify differences in psychological morbidity and caregiver burden and their relationship with psychosocial factors such as sociodemographic variables, circumstances of end-of-life care and dying, social support, family functioning, and perception of quality of care. Prospective data were collected from convenience samples of family caregivers in Brazil (T0 n = 60; T1 n = 35) and Portugal (T0 n = 75; T1 n = 29) at two separate time points—during caregiving (T0), and during the first two months of bereavement (T1). The study samples consisted mostly of women, offspring, and spouses. In both countries, family caregivers devoted most of their day to taking care of their sick relatives and reported a lack of practical support. Portuguese caregivers had higher levels of burden than Brazilian caregivers, and in both populations a greater burden was associated with more psychopathological symptoms. Higher caregiver burden among Portuguese caregivers was associated with the circumstances of death and the perceived lack of emotional support. Among Portuguese caregivers, symptomatology persisted during bereavement, reaching significantly higher levels of anxiety, somatization, and peritraumatic symptoms compared to the Brazilian sample. These results show differences between family caregiver samples in Portugal and Brazil during the bereavement process. Understanding the underlying cultural patterns and mechanisms requires future research.
The loss of a significant other often creates emotional distress for family members that can hamper the ability to meet everyday challenges and pursue wellness. The aim of this qualitative study was to understand the challenge of losing a significant other for older adult family members and the approaches identified as most helpful to promote their own well-being after this person dies. Story inquiry method guided the interview process with 15 older adult bereaved family members residing in a continuing care retirement community. Theory-guided content analysis was used for data analysis. Two themes described the challenges: uneasiness that permeates everyday living and precious memories and patterns of disconnect that breed discontent. Appreciating the rhythmic flow of everyday connecting and separating and embracing reality as situated in one’s lifelong journey are the themes that encompass the helpful approaches used by participants. This study provided insights about the benefits of living in this community such as social networking and a possible drawback such as the frequency of death among residents. Future research should continue to investigate social service resources that older adults find most helpful after a significant other dies and the use of reminiscence groups as a form of bereavement support.
Background: In 2016, over 6.6 million children died globally, and 245 children died in Singapore. Chronic illnesses are prevalent causes of child mortality around the world. Despite growing research that examines the lived experience of parents bereaved by their child’s chronic life-threatening illness, there is no such study within the Asian context.
Methods: To bridge this knowledge gap, meaning-oriented, strength-focused interviews were conducted with 25 parental units (i.e. 6 couples, 13 lone mothers, 4 lone fathers, and 2 primary parental figures) who lost their child to chronic life-threatening illness in Singapore (N = 31), including those of Chinese (n = 17), Malay (n = 10) and Indian ethnicities (n = 4), between August 2017 and April 2018.
Results: Data analysis adhering to the grounded theory approach revealed 7 themes and 25 sub-themes that were organized into a Trauma-to-Transformation Model of Parental Bereavement. This model shows the major milestones in participants’ lived experience of their child’s chronic life-threatening illness and death, starting from the diagnosis of their child’s chronic life-threatening illness and the subsequent emotional turmoil (Theme 1), the mourning of their child’s death and the losses which accompanied the death (Theme 3) and participants’ experience of posttraumatic growth through reflection of their journey of caregiving and child loss (Theme 5). The model further describes the deliberate behaviors or ‘rituals’ that helped participants to regain power over their lives (Theme 2), sustain an intimate bond with their child beyond death (Theme 4), and transcend their loss by deriving positive outcomes from their experience (Theme 6). Finally, the model denotes that the lived experiences and well-being of participants were embedded within the health-and-social-care ecosystem, and in turn impacted by it (Theme 7).
Conclusion: These themes and their corresponding sub-themes are discussed, with recommendations for enhancing culturally sensitive support services for grieving Asian parents around the globe.
The current article focused on examining the potential benefits of the End-of-Life (EoL) informal caregiving, communication, and ritualistic behaviors in adaptation to the conjugal bereavement across two different cultural-background contexts: France and Togo, West Africa. The investigation adopted a transnational approach including a total of 235 bereaved spouses. Despite the variation in the length of time since death, no significant difference was found between the Togolese and French bereaved with respect to the level of complicated grief symptoms. However, the Togolese bereaved perceived a significant postloss growth, fostered by EoL communication with the dying and the performance of ritualistic behaviors. In the French sample, bereaved individuals who had experienced more intimate communication with their dying spouse reported a high level of postloss growth. Moreover, findings showed that EoL caregiving without ritualistic support or communication is associated with poor postbereavement outcomes. These findings suggest a clinical need to promote informal caregiving to the dying, communication with the dying, and ritualistic support during the process of dying as entangled components of EoL care.
BACKGROUND: Illness and death are part of life for everyone, including people with intellectual disabilities. This study investigated the extent to which staff communicate about death with people with intellectual disability facing terminal illness or bereavement.
METHOD: Staff who support people with intellectual disability in the UK (n = 690) completed an electronic survey. Detailed data were obtained from staff where a client had died in the past 12 months (n = 111), was terminally ill (n = 41) or had been bereaved (n = 200). Analysis included descriptive and chi-squared statistics.
RESULTS: 52.6% of people with intellectual disability who were terminally ill were told about their illness, and 18.1% were told they would die. Of those experiencing an anticipated bereavement, 32.4% of staff said no one talked about this with them beforehand. A quarter of staff had received training on end of life or bereavement.
CONCLUSION: Death affects many people with intellectual disability. Staff require training and support in communicating death.
Many studies have highlighted the deleterious psychological impact of suicide on bereaved individuals. We examined the psychological processes facilitating posttraumatic growth (PTG) among 124 suicide-loss survivors, focusing on attachment styles, perceived burdensomeness, and thwarted belongingness. Securely attached individuals achieved higher PTG than insecurely attached individuals. Perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness both mediated and moderated the associations between attachment and PTG. Anxiously or avoidantly attached individuals who also had a high level of perceived burdensomeness were the least likely to achieve PTG. Thus, these individuals may derive particular benefit from attachment-based therapeutic interventions focusing on interpersonal relationships.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care principles are known to support the experiences of children and their families throughout the illness trajectory. However, there is little knowledge of the parental perceptions of care delivered and gaps experienced by families receiving end-of-life care. We report the most helpful aspects of care provided during the end of life and identify opportunities to improve care delivery during this critical time.
METHODS: This study consists of 2 one-hour focus group sessions with 6 participants each facilitated by a clinical psychologist to explore the experiences of bereaved parents of pediatric oncology patients at the end of their child's life. The data were transcribed and coded using constant comparative analysis and evaluated for inter-rater reliability using intraclass correlation coefficient.
RESULTS: Four common themes were identified through qualitative analysis: (1) valued communication qualities, (2) valued provider qualities, (3) unmet needs, and (4) parental experiences. The most prevalent of these themes was unmet needs (mentioned 51 times). Subthemes were identified and evaluated. Parents described struggling with communication from providers, loss of control in the hospital environment, and challenges associated with transition of care to hospice services.
CONCLUSION: Interventions that support the complex needs of a family during end-of-life care are needed, especially with regard to coordination of care.
Background: Grieving relatives can suffer from numerous consequences like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and prolonged grief. This study aims to assess the psychological consequences of grieving relatives after patients’ death in French palliative care units and their needs for support.
Methods: This is a prospective observational multicenter mixed study. Relatives of adult patients with a neoplasia expected to be hospitalized more than 72 h in a palliative care unit for end-of-life issues will be included within 48 h after patient admission. End-of-life issues are defined by the physician at patient admission. Relatives who are not able to have a phone call at 6-months are excluded. The primary outcome is the incidence of prolonged grief reaction defined by an ICG (Inventory Complicate Grief) > 25 (0 best-76 worst) at 6 months after patient’ death. Prespecified secondary outcomes are the risk factors of prolonged grief, anxiety and depression symptoms between day 3 and day 5 and at 6 months after patients’ death based on an Hospital Anxiety and Depression score (range 0–42) > 8 for each subscale (minimal clinically important difference: 2.5), post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms 6 months after patient’ death based on the Impact of Events Scale questionnaire (0 best-88 worst) score > 22, experience of relatives during palliative care based on the Fami-Life questionnaire, specifically built for the study. Between 6 and 12 months after the patient’s death, a phone interview with relatives with prolonged grief reactions will be planned by a psychologist to understand the complex system of grief. It will be analyzed with the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. We planned to enroll 500 patients and their close relatives assuming a 25% prolonged grief rate and a 6-month follow-up available in 60% of relatives.
Discussion: This study will be the first to report the psychological consequences of French relatives after a loss of a loved one in palliative care units. Evaluating relatives’ experiences can provide instrumental insights for means of improving support for relatives and evaluation of bereavement programs.
Trial registration: NCT03748225 registered on 11/19/2018. Recruiting patients.
OBJECTIVE: This is the first known study which examines the evolutionary nature of spousal interaction patterns among Asian parents of children with chronic life-threatening illness, from the time of providing care to their child through bereavement. This study is informed by earlier findings that when a child is diagnosed with a chronic life-threatening illness, parents are faced with multiple stressors, leaving them with little time to invest in their spousal relationship.
PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: A constructivist-phenomenological research paradigm was adopted and meaning-oriented interviews were conducted with 20 parental units (i.e., 6 couples, 12 lone mothers and 2 lone fathers) of Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnicities who lost their child to chronic life-threatening illness in Singapore.
RESULTS: Qualitative thematic analysis of the data revealed four themes, which describe the evolutionary nature of spousal interaction patterns among Asian parents of children with chronic life-threatening illness, from caregiving through bereavement. Findings reveal participants' tendency to concentrate on pragmatic, solution-focused communication during the period of caregiving (pragmatic interaction), avoid discussion about their emotional pain as a means of protecting their spouse (partner-oriented self-regulation), respect and acknowledge their spouse's personal coping strategies (empathic responding) and show greater appreciation and emotional expression within the spousal relationship after their child's death (affective appreciation).
CONCLUSION: Engaging in pragmatic discussions, deferring emotion-focused and potentially distressing conversations, and acknowledging their spouse's need for personal space are important coping strategies for Asian couples facing their child's chronic life-threatening illness and in the immediate aftermath of his/her death. Bereaved couples who have processed their grief individually feel ready to share their reflections with their spouse, deriving meaning and greater relational closeness through such disclosure. These findings are discussed from a cultural lens, with recommendations for healthcare professionals working with Asian parents of children with chronic life-threatening illness.
BACKGROUND: Death of one's infant is devastating to parents, negatively impacting couple relationships and their own health. The impact of a prenatally diagnosed life-limiting fetal condition (LLFC) on parents of minority status is unclear.
AIM: This comparative mixed methods case study examined the person characteristics, quality of perinatal palliative care (PPC) received and parent health outcomes.
METHODS: Bereaved couples, 11 mothers and 3 fathers of minority or mixed races (11 African American and Latino, 1 White Latino and 2 White parents) completed the survey; 7 were interviewed.
RESULTS: Parents rated their general health close to good, physical health close to normal but mental health lower than the population norm. Clinical caseness (abnormal levels) of anxiety were reported in 50% of parents whereas depression scores were normal. The experience of fetal diagnosis and infant death had a negative impact on the health of 40% of participants however, parents could not identify what specifically caused their health problems. Most were satisfied with their PPC but some shared that original providers were not supportive of pregnancy continuation. After the baby's death, 71% reported closer/stronger couple relationships. Two contrasting cases are presented. Once parents found PPC, their baby was treated as a person, they spent time with their baby after birth, and found ways to make meaning through continuing bonds.
CONCLUSION: Despite high overall satisfaction with PPC, bereaved parents were deeply impacted by their infant's death. Mixed methods case study design illuminated the complicated journeys of parents continuing their pregnancy with a LLFC.
Despite UK national guidance on care after death, it is clear that the bereaved family can experience distress while waiting for the patient's death to be verified. This distress can escalate if there is a delay in verification. Anecdotally, such delays particularly occur out of hours and in community settings. Verification of death is a clinical task and an act of care whereby the identity of the person and death is confirmed. In addition, the subsequent providers of care to the deceased, such as families, mortuary teams, funeral directors and cremation services, have their health and safety protected by the provision of pertinent patient-specific information, for instance, infection risk and implantable devices, within the bounds of confidentiality. During this time, the bereaved family may also receive emotional support and information from the skilled clinician. Registered Nurse Verification of Expected Adult Death (RNVoEAD) guidance and associated competencies have recently been developed to ensure that the registered nurses involved in the patient's care can feel confident about their responsibilities and competent in the process of verifying death. It is hoped that this guidance will help to avoid delays that may cause additional distress to grieving families. This article sets out the rationale for the guidance, as well as discussing outstanding concerns and proposals for future considerations.