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Complicated Grief

The current featured ANS article is titled “Complicated Grief of Immediate Family Caregivers: A Concept Analysis” authored by Tina M. Mason, MSN, ARNP, AOCN, AOCNS and Cindy S. Tofthagen, PhD, ARNP, AOCNP, FAANP, FAAN. The article is available to download at no cost while it is featured, and we invite you to get your copy, read it, share your ideas about this timely topic here, and respond to the questions posed in this message from Ms. Mason:

Tina Mason

Grace was the sole caregiver for her husband Bob of 46 years. Their son had died while on duty years prior. Grace managed the household and volunteered weekly at a local hospital. Bob was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma but succumbed to the illness in less than 3 months. Six months later, Grace had not returned to her volunteer work. Her appetite was poor and she was not receptive to visitors. She was described as apathetic and her house untidy. Grace was drinking more wine than her usual with-dinner glass. Grace reported to her provider that she felt intense sadness and wished she could be with her husband soon.

It is estimated that over 10 million people suffer from complicated grief in the United States. Complicated grief is the term used to describe prolonged and intense grief that interferes with normal activities and is accompanied by self-destructive thoughts and/or behaviors. The aim of this concept analysis is to provide a clear understanding of the concept of complicated grief and its consequences following the loss of an important relationship.

Nurses, as well as our multi-disciplinary colleagues, need a better understanding of complicated grief in order to intervene early. Because there are so few formal resources available for caregivers in healthcare settings, the authors hope this concept analysis will spur both awareness of the problem and conversation about integrating formal caregiver support programs into practice. Such programs can facilitate awareness of complicated grief, identification of high-risk individuals, as well as early intervention. What types of caregiver support resources are there in your place of employment or community and after reading the article, what types of resources do you think would be most helpful?

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