Research has revealed that having seriously ill parents is stressful for adolescents and young adults. This can have social and psychological consequences that interfere with their development. Currently the Danish health care system does not provide any systematic attention to how nurses can support and understand young relatives of seriously ill or dying parents. The aim of this study is to gain knowledge about the challenges that nurses confront in the hospital sector in regards to supporting and assisting young relatives to cope with a seriously ill or dying parent, as well as to gain insight into how nurses can assume responsibility in helping and supporting them. Method and findings: One focus group interview with hospital nurses was done. A hermeneutically inspired interpretation revealed three major themes about the challenges the nurses faced in helping and supporting relatives: «the young relatives a closed group» – «family structures in the affected family» – «the family love shield» «nurses’ responsibility» – «unsolid ground but not unprofessional». Conclusion: By increasing attention to the factors that prevent nurses from engaging in a more systematic approach to the families, nurses’ support (and that of other health professionals) can become less random and more active.

Nøkkelord: adolescent, child, nurse, seriously ill parents, palliative care