Main Caregivers Facing Death Experience and Its Meanings

Carolina Peres de Lima Mariana de Abreu Machado About the authors


This study aimed to understand the meanings attributed by the main caregivers of cancer patients in the End of Life. For this purpose, an exploratory qualitative research was conducted, using Participant Observation as a methodological resource. The Content Analysis was used as a valuation method. The Existentialist Theory of Viktor Frankl and contemporary literature on Palliative Care were used as a theoretical basis for understanding the thematic field concerned. After analyzing the field diary, five thematic categories were extracted: spirituality attributing meaning to experience; waiting time; death as relief of suffering; reviewing the history of life; uncertainty about the future. It could be observed reactions and feelings exposed by caregivers, that despite all the physical and emotional exhaustion, wanted to be next to their relatives until their death. We understand that staff communication to the caregiver about the approach of death may contribute to the psychic elaboration process of this experience, allowing caregivers to express their feelings and reflect on the future after the patients’ death. Understanding the subjective caregiver experience enables an effective staff approach to real family care needs.

Hospice Care; Caregivers; Existentialism; Oncology

Conselho Federal de Psicologia SAF/SUL, Quadra 2, Bloco B, Edifício Via Office, térreo sala 105, 70070-600 Brasília - DF - Brasil, Tel.: (55 61) 2109-0100 - Brasília - DF - Brazil