Advice and development

A crash course in grief

Many nurses feel ill-equipped to help patients and families deal with loss. Nicola Davies looks at some misconceptions.

Many nurses feel ill-equipped to help patients and families deal with loss. Nicola Davies looks at some misconceptions.

Nurses provide compassionate care for people during times of suffering, so it is inevitable that you will witness the grief of patients and their families or carers in your career.

Many nurses accept that grief counselling is part of their role, but others feel ill-equipped to provide it, afraid to intrude or add to the pain of grief. Common misconceptions about the grieving process can act as a barrier that prevents staff reaching out to those affected by loss. Here we debunk some of these myths.

‘Grief is just an emotion’

Grief encompasses a range of physical and emotional reactions. Physical reactions include changes in appetite and sleeping patterns, upset stomach, muscle tension, restlessness or low energy, and tightness in the chest.

Emotional reactions include

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