Care of the Bereaved Mother

Ivonne Rocio Guzman


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 a parent who has suffered the loss of a child so they can provide support that validates the mother’s grief and helps facilitate 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 parent’s bereavement support group coordinator. The goal was to research the bereavement experience of 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 parent’s bereavement support group to hear fist hand accounts of the parent’s experience and perception of their nursing care by healthcare professionals. This gathered data was 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 parent’s bereavement support group suggested the lesson would 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 the patient; creating a safe environment and forming a partnership which results in appropriate interventions that meet the specific needs of the mother to develop 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.