Research regarding cancer patients has become increasingly more prevalent, however research regarding the needs of their family caregivers is lacking, even more so, their experience of bereavement after caregiving ends. The purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which bereaved caregivers find balance in their lives following the loss of their spouse with advanced cancer.
Methods and Sample: A constructivist grounded theory approach was undertaken which included the analysis of the in-depth interviews, journal entries and the researcher’s field notes and memos. Interviews were conducted with 10 bereaved caregivers (7- females, 3-males) ranging in age from 66-83 years old. The data included 21 interviews and 8 journals.
Key Results: For bereaved caregivers “walking a fine line” emerged as a major process, balancing between “deep grieving” and “moving forward” in order to successfully create a new life without their partner. The main concern of the participants was “losing control” of balance. The emergence of these processes reveals the importance of addressing the bereaved caregivers’ need to find balance within their new lives.
Conclusions: The findings of this study highlight the unique needs of bereaved caregivers who lost a spouse to cancer, and provides a basis for ongoing research focused on assessment and intervention. Further research is needed to determine whether the process of finding balance is similar in other groups of caregivers who are bereaved.