Death of an Infant: Accessing the Voices of Bereaved Mothers to Create Healing

Title

Death of an Infant: Accessing the Voices of Bereaved Mothers to Create Healing

Creator

Hawthorne DM; Joyner R; Gaucher E; Liehr P

Identifier

Publisher

Journal of Clinical Nursing

Date

2020

Subject

Bereavement; Coping; Death and Dying; Infant; Nursing; Qualitative Study; Women’s Health

Description

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To describe the health challenge for mothers whose infants have died and approaches and resources they used to manage the loss. BACKGROUND: The death of an infant is a devastating experience for families. Bereaved mothers have higher rates of mental distress, loneliness and isolation. While some learn to cope, others remain consumed by grief, unable to function, with persistent affective, cognitive, and physical symptoms. DESIGN: Qualitative design guided by Story Theory. METHODS: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with mothers 13 to 36 months after the death of their infant. Looking at the present, past, and future mothers were asked to describe the health challenge of losing an infant and approaches used to manage the loss. The COREQ checklist was used. RESULTS: These mothers' experiences were captured in six main themes: "Painful aloneness," "Blemished identity," "Burden of being misunderstood," "Being with and being heard," "Being present and building a future," and "Finding meaning in the tragedy." In sharing their stories, mothers identified positive and negative encounters with healthcare professionals following the death of their infant. CONCLUSION: After losing an infant, mothers experience an array of challenges as they move forward. They describe their approaches used to manage the loss. This included a need to be heard, feel supported, and find meaning in the loss as they try to build a new future. Their stories express a need for health care encounters to be healing, allowing mothers to feel cared for and supported on their unique journeys toward a new sense of wellbeing. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: In sharing their stories what matters most to these mothers having lost an infant emerged. The study findings can be used to guide nursing practice, incorporated into healthcare providers bereavement training, increase knowledge and build effective communication skills.

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. PedPalASCNET does not hold any rights over the resource listed here. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Citation List Month

December 2020 List

Collection

Citation

Hawthorne DM; Joyner R; Gaucher E; Liehr P, “Death of an Infant: Accessing the Voices of Bereaved Mothers to Create Healing,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed February 5, 2023, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/17286.

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