Time to Talk About Grief

The most recent issue of AACN Advanced Critical Care has two important articles about nurses dealing with grief. In Creating a Healthy Workplace, author Hui-wen Sato from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles makes these observations:

  • Nurses carry a unique and complicated burden of grief, trauma and moral distress
  • Critical Care is a mentally demanding, emotional place to work
  • The critical care culture values quick responses and “strong nurses,” which may make it difficult for nurses to process complicated emotions, or admit they are present
  • We need to move beyond, “Are you OK?” to “How did that patient’s care affect you?”
  • Nurses should develop support systems to recognize unresolved grief and allow ourselves to be vulnerable and talk about it.

In Ethics in Critical Care, authors Elizabeth Broden and Melissa Kurtz Uveges from Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and the Center for Bioethics at Harvard respectively apply grief and bereavement theory to critical care nursing practice, focusing on end-of-life care.


Sato H:Building healthier workplaces by giving space for work-related grief. AACN Advanced Critical Care 2018;29(3):244-245