Care of the body after death is an important nursing function that occurs in a wide variety of contexts. After a patient dies, nursing care continues as physical care of the body as well as care of the family members. In this descriptive, qualitative study, the authors explored nurse perceptions of what it means to care for the body after death. Narratives describing this care were collected and analyzed. The descriptions were coded and two overarching themes emerged: giving respectful and dignified after-death care (ADC) that is sensitive to the needs of the family and ADC providing nurses with a mechanism for coping with care of dying patients. To ensure patient and family ADC needs are not superseded by nurses' own coping needs, comprehensive patient and family-centered ADC planning is recommend. Grief resolution opportunities, end-of-life education, and mentoring should be available to support nurses with post-death experiences.
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