Skip to main content

The Grief-Sensitive Healthcare Project: Program development and lessons learned

Bereaved families report wishing for honesty, openness, clear communication, and authenticity from their healthcare providers. However, healthcare providers frequently report discomfort talking about death and dying, strong emotions when caring for dying patients, and high levels of burnout. This can impact the quality of care received by patients and families at the time of a death, and influence a family’s grief process and long term mental health outcomes. Ultimately, although healthcare providers report a desire to receive education around death and dying so they may provide high quality care, this topic has been largely absent from the majority of training for healthcare professionals, representing a significant gap in the field.

The Grief-Sensitive Healthcare Project (GSHP) was thus developed in partnership with the Yale Child Study Center, New York Life Foundation, and Child Bereavement UK. The GSHP aims to close the gap in bereavement education among healthcare providers in the United States by developing training curricula, providing interactive educational presentations, and creating professional tools and resources accessible online.

During the 60 minute lecture portion of this session, we will describe the background and rationale for the project by reviewing relevant quantitative and qualitative literature. We describe the process of collaborating with Child Bereavement UK in a train-the-trainer series, and what we learned when adapting materials for healthcare providers in the United States. We will then move to describing the process of adapting training curricula and creating a website and resource library of handouts and videos for professionals. We will present pilot findings from the initial delivery of our training courses, which includes results from 25 sessions with over 500 healthcare professionals in attendance. During the 30 minute interactive discussion portion of this session, we will facilitate the application of skills from our training curriculum for use with bereaved families.


  • After participating in this session, attendees should be able to identify the gap between patient/family needs related to grief and healthcare providers’ education in this area.
  • After participating in this session, attendees should be able to describe the process of GSHP program development.
  • After participating in this session, attendees should be able to relate how the GSHP content and training model may be adopted into their own practice/setting.
  • After participating in this session, attendees should be able to use reflective skills when interacting with grieving patients/families.