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The Tie That Binds: Relationships In Perinatal Bereavement

Limbo, Rana PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC; Kobler, Kathie MS, APN, PCNS-BC

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: November-December 2010 - Volume 35 - Issue 6 - p 316–321
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e3181f0eef8

Relationship is a central concept to the delivery of quality perinatal bereavement care. This article explores relevant bereavement research and clinically based writings about relationship in the care of families experiencing perinatal loss. Focusing on relationship provides a framework to guide interventions that will be perceived as meaningful and helpful to grieving parents. From the moment parents learn the difficult news of their baby's poor prognosis or death, nurses must strive to establish trust while building an effective working relationship with the family. A nurse with an understanding of the relationship needs can guide parents in creating a context for supporting each family member dealing with this unexpected family tragedy. Through sensitive follow-up bereavement care, nurses provide a source of hope for grieving families over time. Ultimately, nurses must find meaningful ways of self-care as a way of reinvesting in future relationship with other grieving families.

Nurses who work with families experiencing perinatal bereavement need to be expert in developing caring relationships.

Rana Limbo is the Director of Bereavement and Advance Care Planning Services, Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation, Inc., La Crosse, WI. She can be reached via e-mail at

Kathie Kobler is the Advanced Practice Nurse for the Pediatric Palliative Care Program, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, IL.

The authors have disclosed that there are no financial relationships related to this article.

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© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.