A Unique Life Balance: The Experience of Finding Balance During Bereavement For Older Adults After Spousal Caregiving
ABSTRACT Regaining a sense of balance in life after the death of a spouse is a very difficult journey. Evidence supports older spousal caregivers experience unique challenges that affect their bereavement adjustment. The methodology of interpretive description informed this secondary analysis of the experience of finding balance during bereavement. The purpose was to provide empirical evidence to generate new knowledge and expand our understanding of a phenomenon important to older adults experiencing bereavement after caring for their spouse with advanced cancer. The participants were ten men and women between the ages of 66-83 years of age in their first year of bereavement. The dataset consisted of 21 interviews and eight journals. The participants’ experiences were illuminated through words, stories, and reflections on their journey from caregiver to their lives lived without their spouse. Ten major themes and 15 subthemes emerged. Creating balance in bereavement reflected each participant’s quest to find a ‘new normal’, and sense of peace in areas of their life that were important to them. Discovering ways to nurture their unique life balance helped each participant grow and learn to carry forward while honouring the life of their spouses. The knowledge of finding balance in bereavement gained through interpretive description of this ‘insider’s perspective’ provides important insights for those in a strategic position to promote positive outcomes in the bereavement journey.
bereavement, finding balance, cancer, older adult, caregiver, spouse, qualitative
Master of Nursing (M.N.)