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How Grandparents Experience the Death of a Grandchild With a Life-Limiting Condition

Journal title
Journal of family nursing
Publication year
2019
Author(s)
Tatterton, M. J.; Walshe, C.
Pages
109-127
Volume
25
Number
1

Traditionally, family-focused care extends to parents and siblings of children with life-limiting conditions. Only a few studies have focused on the needs of grandparents, who play an important role in the families of children with illness and with life-limiting conditions, in particular. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used as the methodological framework for the study. Seven bereaved grandparents participated in this study. Semistructured, individual, face-to-face interviews were conducted. A number of contextual factors affected the experience of bereaved grandparents, including intergenerational bonds and perceived changes in role following the death of their grandchild. The primary motivation of grandparents stemmed from their role as a parent, not a grandparent. The breadth of pain experienced by grandparents was complicated by the multigenerational positions grandparents occupy within the family. Transition from before to after the death of a grandchild exacerbated the experience of pain. These findings about the unique footprint of grandparent grief suggest the development of family nursing practice to better understand and support grandparents during the illness of a grandchild, in addition to bereavement support.

Research abstracts