Objective: Crying is a common but seldom studied phenomenon
in palliative care. The aim of this study was to explore the significance
of patients crying in a palliative care context.
Methods: Tape-recorded interviews with 14 cancer patients in
palliative home care were carried out. To gain deeper understanding, a
hermeneutic analysis and interpretation was used.
Results: Crying was described in different dimensions: (1)
intense and despondent crying as a way of ventilating urgent needs, (2)
gentle, sorrowful crying as a conscious release of emotions, and (3)
quiet, tearless crying as a protection strategy. Crying seems to be an
expression for an inner emotional force, provoked by different factors,
which cause changes in the present balance. To cry openly but also to cry
on the inside meant being able to achieve or maintain balance. Crying may
be something useful, which could create release and help reduce tension,
but it may also have a negative impact as it consumes energy and creates
feelings of shame.
Significance of results: Professionals need to understand the
different levels of crying. In such situations sometimes comforting the
patient may not be the best solution, as some may need privacy.