Bereavement, Grief, Posttraumatic growth



  1. Doherty, Mary Ellen PhD, RN, CNM, FACNM
  2. Scannell-Desch, Elizabeth PhD, RN, FAAN


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe and explore the experiences of women who have lost a child and the degree of posttraumatic growth revealed by the experiences.


Study Design and Method: A qualitative descriptive study was conducted with interviews of mothers and grandmothers of children who died using the posttraumatic growth framework.


Findings: Participants included 11 mothers and 2 grandmothers. The posttraumatic growth framework was useful in examining their experiences. Seven themes were identified through data analysis: When my child died, I lost part of myself; Anticipated loss versus unanticipated loss; Picking up the pieces of my life; Support, kindness, and compassion helped; Moving on while still broken; Never forgotten, always in my heart; and Holding my loved ones close.


Clinical Implications: Nurses are in strategic positions to help women who have experienced the loss of a child by building rapport, establishing trust, and demonstrating empathy.