Many people have strong emotional and spiritual needs when faced with a loved one in a critical care setting. For healthcare providers, urgent action and aggressive treatment often take priority over other needs. To bridge the gap between providers and patients, families should be part of the healthcare team in a holistic and supportive manner.

When faced with the tragedy of a traumatic event or a serious illness, many people have strong religious beliefs, and they often display more outward signs of devotion than they did in everyday life. Beliefs and behaviors affect their experiences with healthcare—both positively and negatively. This pattern is especially important in the critical care setting, where time is often of the essence and the experience may mark the end of someone’s life.

As clinicians, we recognize the needs of patients and their families. In the critical care setting, the physiological need for urgent action and...

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