Journal Article Summaries Relating to Suffering and Sorrow
Milestones of chronic sorrow: Perspectives of chronically ill and bereaved persons and
Burke, M.L., Eakes, G.G., & Hainsworth M.A. (1999). Milestones of chronic sorrow:
Perspectives of chronically ill and bereaved persons and family caregivers. Journal of
Family Nursing, 5, 374-387. doi:10.1177/107484079900500402
With a background focused on family nursing, Burke, Eakes and Hainsworth, all
well-established RNs, aim to dig deeper into the topic of chronic sorrow. The authors of this
article discuss a definition of chronic sorrow. They have focused on the presence of
pervasive grief-related feelings that have been found to occur occasionally throughout the
lives of people with chronic health conditions, their family caregivers, and the bereaved.
They have also discussed many triggers of chronic sorrow. Other circumstances and
situations that may trigger chronic sorrow in a variety of populations are defined.
Similarities and differences of the trigger events among the variety of populations are also
discussed as well as support networks that are identified as helpful. Although this resource
was published in 1999, it provides great insight into common characteristics, triggers, and
nursing implications that are relevant in practice today and is closely related to the topic of
sorrow following all types of loss. A Conceptual and Moral Analysis of Suffering
Carnevale, F. (2009). A conceptual and moral analysis of suffering. Nursing Ethics, 16(2),
Suffering is wrongly regarded as “a moral wrong that needs to be made right by
health care professionals.” This article gives recommendations for a paradigm shift in how
suffering can be better understood, through the practice of empathy. This journal article from
Nursing Ethics by Dr. Carnevale presents an epistemological and moral examination of
suffering. Suffering can be properly understood only in terms of how it is perceived by the
person experiencing it and not objectively by others such as healthcare professionals. While
sometimes pain can be seen as synonymous with suffering it is possible for a person to suffer
without pain and these are therefore inter-related and should be assessed carefully. This
article recognizes that in clinical practice, clinicians must cultivate „empathic attunement‟
and try to grasp a sense of the felt emotion of the other while still maintaining a „professional
distance‟ in order to protect themselves from emotional burn out.
Finding Meaning in Suffering
Deal, B. (2011). Finding meaning in suffering. Holistic Nursing Practice, 25(4), 205-210.
Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/login.aspx?
This article focuses on the nursing aspects surrounding pain and suffering, and how
alleviation of pain and suffering may be the focus of the nurse's job in certain circumstances. The article touches on how spirituality and religion may assist patients who are suffering, and
the relationship between spiritual influences and suffering and how nurses can better care for
patients. Finding meaning in suffering has been described as a transcendent experience.
Nurses can help patients find meaning through interventions such as listening to and
witnessing suffering, connecting suffering and spirituality, creating a healing environment,
and inviting reflections on suffering. It describes how patients are "wounded story tellers"
who can use their stories to make sense of their illness. Little research however has looked at
patients' stories and caregivers' response in relation to patients' suffering. This article
describes how patients find meaning in suffering and how nursing interventions can assist
suffering patients. The process of caring for a suffering person is painful for the nurse and
requires exceptional effort on the nurse's part, but the very act that drains the nurse can also