An Experience of Caring for Families: Listening to the Call for Holistic Nursing

Contributors: Fernando Riegel, PhD; Lucas Daniel Ribas, NS;
Ingrid Soares Amaral, NS & Jaqueline Ribeiro, NS (Brazil)

In December of 2021, Professor of Nursing Fernando Riegel and three undergraduate students (Lucas Daniel Ribas, Ingrid Soares Amaral, and Jaqueline Ribeiro), had an experience of nursing as caring for families in a stress situation. The experience was guided by the theoretical framework – Boykin and Schoenhofer Theory of Nursing as Caring. Several departments of the Universidad Federal do Rio Grande do Sul collaborated to provide support for survivor families awaiting the results of the trial related to the fire of the Brazilian nightclub Kiss, in which 242 people perished and 646 were injured, most of them university students.   In the nursing situation we co-created with the families, it was possible to experience feelings – love, faith, hope, pain, suffering, joys and suggestions. The students played and sang the Beatles’ song “Let It Be” as we all awaited the outcome of the trial.  In that moment we could feel the presence of children and grandchildren in the speeches and other expressions of the family members with whom we shared experiences of love and care.

L-R: Jaqueline, Ingrid, Professor Fernando and Lucas
L-R: Jaqueline, Ingrid, Professor Fernando and Lucas

The music of the moments sung memories of the students so loved by those present, … let it be… Mother Mary comes to me… speaking words of wisdom… let it be … at this moment in search of wisdom for the ones lost to tragedy… the song sought to warm hearts, chosen hearts. Love is what they will follow and God will guide their best decisions and the next ones… joy in the life of each one…of songs in the light… This is also being and doing nursing!

Following is a video of Lucas Daniel Ribas speaking about the meaning of this experience for him, and an English translation of his reflection.

“The period in which our team provided care and reception to families and survivors of the Santa Maria tragedy in 2013, at Boate Kiss, provided us with a unique experience, brought perspectives and experiences that I will never forget. We experience many sensations with them, feel their pain and celebrate their victories, working on one of the most important human skills: empathy. We learned a lot about grief, and how it manifests itself differently for everyone, but that everyone felt. There were moments of relaxation, of seriousness; moments of relaxation and others in which memories came to light and their stories were told, which touched us deeply. Each one manifested itself differently, some more open and others more reserved. It was necessary to have the management and adaptability to be able to reach each one in a more intimate way. I am extremely grateful to have been able to participate in this reception and to have known these families, as I feel that what we learned and the experiences we had with them are incomparable. In addition, the sense of accomplishment was undoubtedly remarkable and encouraging. When we sang and played with them; when we sat and talked for hours on end; when we hugged them, we could feel their gratitude for being together. As the days went by, the family members established a relationship of trust and got used to our company, which made the day of separation painful and showed even more how much they appreciated our presence. We felt the manifestation of the essence of human and supportive care and it was a gift to be part of it”.  (Lucas Daniel Ribas, 2022)

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