Family caregivers experience many challenges during the time of bereavement, mainly to do with a lack of support, difficult and overwhelming emotions, and the recovery from the physical and emotional challenges of caregiving. A significant number of bereaved caregivers will experience negative outcomes such as prolonged and complicated grief, depression, and even death.
A self-administered writing intervention called the Finding Balance Intervention (FBI) was developed and tested through research with older adults bereaved after caregiving for a spouse with advanced cancer. A case scenario is presented to illustrate use of the tool in clinical practice.
The FBI is a theory-based, evidence-informed self-administered writing tool that offers many possibilities in clinical practice. If the nurse has an opportunity to provide a bereavement support visit to the family caregiver, it could be offered and then some followup provided as needed. Of course, in cases of complicated grief, the caregiver should be referred for professional support.
The FBI could be used in bereavement support groups to have individuals write and then discuss their writing as a group as they feel comfortable to share. Many family caregivers will have adequate coping skills and supports to manage grief on their own, but others certainly would benefit from an intervention that honors their caregiving journey, assists in balancing difficult emotions and activities, gives an opportunity to grieve and offers ways to find a new purpose after caregiving ends.
Finding Balance Intervention Poster:
Our Honoring the Voices of Bereaved Caregivers videos can be found at the following links: