adaptation, bereavement, family caregiver, relationships, social support



  1. O'Mallon, Marilyn O'Rourke PhD, RN


Between 5% and 9% of the population in the United States sustains the loss of a close family member each year. Loss of a significant relationship often causes suffering during bereavement, which can have a significant impact on bereavement adaptation for family caregivers. The purpose of this descriptive mixed-methods study was to explore family caregiver perceptions of social support and family relationships during the first 2 years of the bereavement period. A convenience sample of 64 family caregivers 1 to 2 years postbereavement was surveyed using the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support and the Family Relationship Index. Fifteen of the 64 surveyed caregivers participated in semistructured face-to-face interviews. Data were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Findings suggest that the majority of family caregivers perceived themselves and their family members to be adapting effectively to the death of their family member. Family caregiver perceptions of factors promoting effective bereavement adaptation and factors that may hinder bereavement adaptation are identified, along with an identified need for future research with family caregivers in bereavement.