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The Meaning of Letting Go: The Lived Experience for Caregivers of Persons at the End of Life

Kruse, Barbara G. PhD, ARNP

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Parse’s research method was used to describe the structure of the experience of letting go as portrayed by caregivers of persons at the end of life. Eight female caregivers told their stories of what it means to let go of their loved one through the dying process. The participants were asked to bring to the discussion a photograph that most represented the meaning of letting go for them. All but two participants brought a photograph of the participant physically holding their loved one, an image that supports the paradoxical nature of letting go. For these women, the structure of the meaning of letting go was “persevering in presence despite hardships while bearing witness to wavering decline life unfolds with a new view.”

Barbara G. Kruse, PhD, ARNP, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Barbara G. Kruse, PhD, ARNP, School of Nursing, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd, South, Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565 (e-mail: bkruse@fgcu.edu).

© 2004 The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association