A Place for Sadness: Messages for Nursing Practice in the Ontology of Melancholy

Mckinnon, John (2017) A Place for Sadness: Messages for Nursing Practice in the Ontology of Melancholy. In: Royal College of Nursing International Research Conference, 5-7th April 2018, Examination Rooms Oxford University.

A Place for Sadness: Messages for Nursing Practice in the Ontology of Melancholy
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Sadness is an affective state associated with feelings of loss, sorrow and regret. The emotion is experienced in the face of an event with no blameworthy target. Sadness is accompanied by a deceleration of the physiological and cognitive process permitting a recovery period when support can be sought (Rivers et al. 2007). The view that sadness is a powerless state lacking agency (Tiedens et al. 2000; Tiedens, 2001) has recently been challenged (Zawadzki et al. 2012 ; Bower, 2013).
This paper aims to examine how the ontology of sadness finds purpose and value in nursing practice.
Thirty- three nurses across community, public health, paediatrics, mental health and acute adult surgery talked exhaustively in interview about their experiences of sadness in their professional lives. The data was collected in a London teaching hospital and in three community NHS trusts in the East Midlands of England between November 2011 and August 2012. The interviews were audio- taped and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were analysed using Grounded Theory Method.
Sadness was experienced as a heaviness of heart; a sense of loss and a place of remedial retreat distinguished from depression by its temporary nature and functionality. Sources of sadness included endings in the nurse patient relationship, knowledge of patient life history and the separation of children from their parents. Sadness was shown to fuel attention to detail, a sense of fairness and empathy in practice.
There is a place for sadness within reflective practice to help identify roots of loss without blame and the need for restoration. Sadness affords opportunities for greater emotional competence and situational awareness. Sadness among service users signals a time when sensitive aspects of care and after care can be negotiated.

Keywords:Sadness, Melancholy, Emotional Intelligence, Reflective Practice
Subjects:B Subjects allied to Medicine > B700 Nursing
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
ID Code:33348
Deposited On:20 Oct 2018 13:11

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