Date of Award

Spring 3-16-2018

Degree Type

Final Project

Degree Name

DNP Doctor of Nursing Practice


Mary Ellen Roberts, D.N.P.

Committee Member

Maureen Byrnes, D.N.P.

Committee Member

Sheila Carr, RN - BC


Purpose: Caring for the bereaved mother can be a challenging undertaking for healthcare professionals who unless have suffered a similar loss, can find it difficult to relate with bereaved parents. The purpose of this DNP project is to research grief and bereavement to better understand the parental bereavement experience and to develop an education lesson for MBU nurses caring for bereaved patients. It is essential to provide nurses with insight into the bereavement experience of parents who have suffered the loss of a child, so they can provide support that validates the parents’ grief and helps facilitate spiritual, emotional, or cultural rituals. Appropriate interventions can improve quality of care and promote healing.

Method: The project was implemented in collaboration with the NICU nursery, the NICU nursing staff, and the parents’ bereavement support group coordinator. The goal was to research the bereavement experience of the parents, but more specifically the mother, through evidence- based research, interviews with NICU nurses of their interaction with bereaved parents, review of the existing bereavement protocol in the hospital, and observing a parents’ bereavement support group to hear firsthand accounts of parents’ experiences and perceptions of their nursing care by healthcare professionals. This gathered data was then structured into an education lesson for the nurses of the MBU.

Findings: The education lesson was positively reviewed by the stakeholders. Their feedback stated the information was relevant and brought awareness and insight for nurses caring for these vulnerable patients during a difficult time. The coordinator of the parents’ bereavement support group suggested the lesson would also be beneficial for newly hired nurses during orientation.

Clinical Relevance: Through education, nurses gain knowledge and an understanding of what their role is in the bereavement process of the mother who has suffered an unexpected perinatal loss. Learning to foster a caring and trusting relationship with patients creates a safe environment and forms a partnership with patients, which thus results in appropriate interventions that meet the specific needs of the mother. This also facilitates the development of an individualized plan of care that provides support, comfort and guidance through the bereavement process. Guiding parents through the bereavement process is an essential component of care that contributes to normal progression through the stages of grief and promotes wellbeing.