FAMILIAL RESPONSES TO DEATH IN VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTERS: LOSING CONTROL AND HOLDING ON

Chapter

Abstract

  • Purpose: To explore how families respond to the death and dying of their loved ones in a hospital setting, archival research was conducted using eight qualitative articles describing next-of-kins’ perceptions of end-of-life care in Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs). The articles were based on the qualitative arm of the VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) study entitled, “Best Practices for End-of-life Care and Comfort Care Order Sets for our Nation’s Veterans” (BEACON). Design: The archival research consisted of an interactive methodological process of data immersion, analysis, and interpretation which resulted in the emergence of two overarching thematic frameworks called “losing control” and “holding on.” Findings: “Losing control” is the process that occurs when the patient experiences a cascading sequence of deleterious biological events and situations rendering the caregiver no longer able to direct the timing or setting of the dying trajectory. The notion of “holding on” captures family member’s responses to the need to maintain control after relinquishing the patient’s care to the institutional setting. During the patient’s hospitalization, the dual dynamics of “losing control” and “holding on” unfolded in the spatial, temporal, and life narrative domains. Originality: The findings not only contribute to better overall understanding of family members’ responses to death in the pre-COVID-19 hospital setting but also heighten the awareness of the complex spatial, temporal, and narrative issues faced by family members who lost a hospitalized loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 63
  • End Page

  • 90
  • Volume

  • 19