Exploration of spousal carers' lived experience of loss

Harten, Peta (2001) Exploration of spousal carers' lived experience of loss. Research Master thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


During the last century, much of the literature that discussed loss and grief was developed within an empirical-analytical paradigm. Stage models and theories of grief were proposed to explain and describe a universal process of grieving. Nurses, to a large extent, accept and perpetuate these notions of loss and grief and continue to provide prescriptive care in order to help their patients through each stage of grief. These theories and models fail to recognise individuals' unique circumstances that shape their actions and reactions to loss. Especially, these theories and models are inadequate in informing nurses when caring for people whose loss is not through death. The aim of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to explore spousal carers' lived experience of loss. Ten spousal carers of partners with Multiple Sclerosis participated in this study. In-depth, unstructured interviews were conducted and transcribed verbatim. The data were analysed using a modified form of the method outlined by Diekelmann, Allen, and Tanner, (1989). Three relational themes: experiencing the loss, caring as worrying and reinterpreting life meaning, were identified. The constitutive pattern that emerged was weaving through a web of paradoxes. Within this web were three paradoxes: loss/gain, limiting/enabling and vulnerability/strength. The relational themes and constitutive pattern explicated illuminate these carers' experiences of loss from their perspective thus enabling deeper insight of their experience. The constitutive pattern provides understanding into what these participants (and their families) are living through, their personal strengths, weaknesses, hopes and resources in coping with loss not through death. The findings of the study therefore have implications for nursing practice, education and research, and health service provision.

Additional Information

Master of Health Science

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/17916
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1110 Nursing
Historical > FOR Classification > 1117 Public Health and Health Services
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Nursing and Midwifery
Keywords Caregivers, Victoria, Multiple sclerosis, Patients, Homecare, Family relationships, Grief
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