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"During the pandemic, nurses have been the support of a great collective mourning".

Lori Thompson, board member of psychology of SECPAL, and Izaskun Andonegi, nurse, president and founder of Bidegin, met to talk about the role of the nurse in bereavement in a session organised by the School of Nursing of the University of Navarra.

10 | 12 | 2021

The School of Nursing of the University of Navarra gave the session "The nurse facing bereavement" on 2 December. A conversation to discuss the grieving process within the nursing profession. It was attended by Izaskun AndonegiThe participants were: Nurse, president and founder of association Bidegin, andLori Thompson board member of psychology of SECPAL and director of the Psychosocial Care Team of the Matía Foundation in the Programme for the comprehensive care of people with advanced illnesses of the "la Caixa" Foundation.

The session provided an opportunity to reflect on bereavement and whether or not nursing professionals are prepared to manage it. In this way Thompson explained that "nurses can feel discomfort or grief with the loss of a patient. That is why it is important to work on accepting that the people I care for may die". Andonegui, for her part, pointed out that they have shown that they are prepared; "during the pandemic we have been the support for a great collective mourning, which also implies a cost or wear and tear staff". 

In order to manage grief processes properly, professionals must have the right tools. For this reason, the expert from the Matía Foundation stated that "health professionals must be offered more training and security so that they know how to communicate and accompany better". This is important for professionals because, as Andonegui commented, "society expects nurses to respond to everything". Finally, Thompson affirmed that an important process for the management of grief is introspection; "we rush around everywhere, but we don't stop to think and reflect". 

This session is part of the training Continua programme of the School Nursing programme of the University of Navarra. It is aimed at alumni and people interested in the field of health. The goal of the programme is to provide nursing professionals with the necessary tools to continue training and grow professionally. 

Disallowed pain

There is a great deal of pressure within the profession: "The bereavement of a nursing professional is quite disallowed because it is expected that we should not have to feel the loss of another. Faced with this reality, many professionals feel ashamed to admit that they are not well," explained Izaskun Andonegui. Lori Thompson, for her part, commented that "we live in a society in which suffering, vulnerability or death are not contemplated, which makes it more difficult to recognise suffering". 

In addition, the pandemic has made bereavement processes more complicated. In this context, nursing professionals have found themselves in difficult situations to manage. "The pressure of the pandemic has taken its toll, and the reflection we have come to is that we need to take better care of the professionals than we have done so far," said Lori Thompson.

Podcast of the session