At the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses 2001 National Teaching Institute (NTI) in Anaheim, California, I attended a lecture presented by Glenda Craft and Kathleen Vollman. The topic of this lecture was starting a bereavement committee to reach out to families after the death of a loved one in a critical care unit. The speakers stressed that follow-up can help with closure for the patient’s family and for the staff, and that they had received very positive feedback. Many program attendees shared their experiences with this type of program and were also pleased with the results.

I thought a bereavement program could be adapted to the cardiac intensive care unit where I work, at Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut. I engaged another nurse, Mary Harris, to assist with program development. Our first step was to formalize a committee that would base its work...

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