Disenfranchised Grief in the PICU: Crying for Attention

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Abstract

Theme:

The death of any child is distressing to parents, family, friends, and healthcare staff alike. However, the close family circle is accorded the right to grieve by society, as the nature of the relationship with the child is acknowledged and socially validated. The relationship between the child and the staff caring for the child is not acknowledged to the same extent, and this may cause difficulties for staff who grieve following the death of the child. This experience is repeated many times when working in the PICU.

Case Studies:

This article describes two cases that illustrate the unrecognized nature of disenfranchised grief for pediatric healthcare staff.

Discussion:

Addressing the cumulative effects of bereavement on the staff in the PICU through formal and informal systems of support may reduce emotional exhaustion, improve staff retention, and enhance the care of children and families.

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