This study explored the experience of family members with a close relative in an Intensive Care Unit. Using Colaizzi’s method of phenomenology, interviews were conducted with two participants who had relatives in different Intensive Care Units. Current literature has focused on identifying the needs of family members’ visiting a relative in ICU and their level of satisfaction with care but little attention has been paid to exploring their experience. Six themes emerged from the data: seeing and being terrified; wanting and needing to be there; lack of information gives rise to mistrust; needing support in order to cope; feeling out of control; acknowledging ‘humanness’. Together the fundamental description and fundamental structure of the phenomenon provide understanding of the family members’ experience of having a relative in an ICU. Recommendations for nursing practice, education and further research are made based on these findings
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