“Acknowledge that grief is a reoccurring theme. This isn’t something that’s a one and done. This is a process that you’re going to continue to revisit, and in recognizing that, I think this allows us to be more proactive and responsive to this emotional part of our job,” ONS member Carla Jolley, MN, ARNP, ANP-BC, AOCN®, ACHPN, palliative care advanced practice nurse and coordinator for the palliative care consult service embedded within the oncology program at the Whidbey Health Medical Center in Coupeville, WA, told Jaime Weimer, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, AOCNS®, oncology clinical specialist at ONS, in a conversation about how oncology nurses can approach and manage the grief they face in their work. You can earn free NCPD contact hours after listening to this episode and completing the evaluation linked below.
Music Credit: “Fireflies and Stardust” by Kevin MacLeod
Licensed under Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0
Earn 1.00 contact hour of nursing continuing professional development (NCPD) by listening to the full recording and completing an evaluation at myoutcomes.ons.org by December 2, 2024. The planners and faculty for this episode have no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies to disclose. ONS is accredited as a provider of NCPD by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.
Learning outcome: Upon completion of this activity, the learner will report an increase in knowledge related to grief experienced by oncology nurses.
To discuss the information in this episode with other oncology nurses, visit the ONS Communities.
To provide feedback or otherwise reach ONS about the podcast, email pubONSVoice@ons.org.
Highlights From Today’s Episode
“Really look at where our own losses have happened in life, whether that’s mapping out people who have passed on that we’ve cared for and loved that have had a lot of meaning to us, what kind of changes or transitions that have happened in our own lives. . . . There’s a lot of loss that happens on a day-to-day basis, and so think about who we are and the accumulation of our own personal losses, because I think sometimes where it gets triggered in that secondary trauma is when we see ourselves in other people’s situations.” Timestamp 09:48
“How good or challenged are you with boundaries? There’s always going to be patients and situations that are going to tug at your heart, and that doesn’t make you bad with boundaries. But if you’re going home and always taking it all in and can’t separate your work life from your personal life, then there’s a place to start thinking about that as far as that assessment. Is there something I can do for myself to make this not so difficult? Because that of course leads to burnout and compassion fatigue.” TS 13:06
“I think the culture in our workplace can sometimes really impact our ability to be authentic and respond to our own personal grief.” TS 17:48
“Create a place and a space to debrief patients that we have lost. A place where we can remember and acknowledge, and not only acknowledge the names of the names . . . really reflect on those gifts and the learnings from the patients and families that you care for.” TS 18:48
“Acknowledge that grief is a reoccurring theme. This isn’t something that’s a one and done. This is a process that you’re going to continue to revisit, and in recognizing that, I think this allows us to be more proactive and responsive to this emotional part of our job. I so recommend that you put a self-care plan in place ahead of time and be thinking about that.” TS 41:57
“We also need that card like from a game that says, ‘Call a friend.’ If you are feeling overwhelmed, I really encourage you to identify who is going to be that call a friend name? Who is it that you can find as a partner or mentor that you can urgently debrief if something really tragic happened during your day? Maybe it’s not your family or partner, and maybe it is. But sometimes I think that nurses’ pain—we hold it and can share it with each other better. Because again, just like the families in their grief process, the telling of the story is important. It’s important that we can tell it, and then it’s also important that we can hear other people’s stories and hold those in that container in that sacred space as well. So, find that ‘call a friend.’” TS 45:49