Macmillan, Laura
March 2006
Oncology Nursing Forum;Mar2006, Vol. 33 Issue 2, p481
Academic Journal
Oncology staff are often caught up in the intense activity and suffering that are associated with cancer care. They do not always have the opportunity to reflect on the special moments they spend with cancer patients or to process the grief they experience when a patient dies. To provide meaningful bereavement experiences for staff Oncology Nursing Staff planned and implemented an annual memorial service for patients who had died during the previous year. Readings and music were selected by a planning committee, and representatives from all the disciplines working on an inpatient oncology unit at an academic medical center were engaged to participate. The service was both formal and informal, including musical selections, planned readings, and candle lighting as deceased patients' names were read. There was also a time for anyone who so desired to come forward and share memories about individual patients with the audience. The service was held in the hospital chapel. Attendance and verbal feedback provided valuable evaluation information. Thirty-nine people from a staff of 100 attended the service, and feedback about the event was very positive. Staff stated that they appreciated having a time to think about and reminisce about former patients in a setting that was unencumbered with the demands of daily care and activity. Staff also appreciated seeing patients' names in print and having an event dedicated to acknowledging the meaning of caring for them in spite of an unsuccessful outcome. Oncology nursing practice can be stressful, frenetic, and sad. A memorial service provides for a planned "time out" to acknowledge the meaning inherent in caring for patients with cancer and the importance of the job staff do.


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