Paper Type

Master's Thesis


Brooks College of Health

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)



First Advisor

Dr. Lillia M. Loriz

Second Advisor

Dr. Doreen Radjenovic

Third Advisor

Dr. Jason Mauro


The death of a child has tremendous impact on a caregiver. Even when prognosis is poor and death appears imminent, care of the dying child typically focuses on achieving cure. Consequently, caregivers are often ill prepared to cope with the grief they experience as their child is dying. Anticipatory mourning allows caregivers time to begin grief work prior to the death of a loved one. Literature suggests that those who experience anticipatory mourning have a less complicated bereavement period. The purpose of this qualitative study is to (a) describe the presence (or absence) and role of anticipatory mourning in caregivers who recently experienced the death of a hospitalized child and to (b) determine if consistent themes exist that caregivers describe as helpful or detrimental to them during this process. An exploratory, descriptive design was used to answer questions in focused, guided, semi-structured, in-depth, tape-recorded interviews. Thematic content analysis derived themes from the interview transcripts of a sample of 11 caregivers who recently experienced the death of a hospitalized child. Caregivers' descriptions of their experiences surrounding the death of their child reveal an environment and health care team that is often ill prepared to deal with the impending death of a child. Also described are instances that reflect a compassionate process that positively affects the experience while facilitating appropriate grief work. Offered are recommendations for health care professionals that may assist caregivers in coping with the death of their child.

Included in

Nursing Commons