Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 42, Issue 8, pp 1279–1281 | Cite as

Is this bereaved relative at risk of prolonged grief?

  • Nancy Kentish-Barnes
  • Holly G. Prigerson
What's New in Intensive Care


Mary T’s 70-year-old husband is admitted to the ICU after an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. In the ICU, he develops several symptoms of anoxic brain damage. On day 1, at her husband’s bedside, she is met by a senior physician who informs her that her husband is unlikely to recover, yet Mary T tells the nurse that she is hopeful that things will get better soon. She does not visit her husband the second day but calls in the evening and is told her husband is making no progress. On the fourth day, she is met by the resident, who tells her there is no hope and that her husband is going to die. She is shocked and speechless. That afternoon, mechanical ventilation is withdrawn. Mary T stays with her husband. The nurse notes that she neither talks to nor touches her husband; rather, she sits motionless, staring blankly at the heart monitor. She is alone with him when he dies. She leaves the unit alone without discussing her husband’s death and her thoughts and feelings with...


Complicate Grief Deceased Person Home Death Impending Death Prolonged Grief Disorder 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

Authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ESICM 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Intensive Care Unit, Famirea Research GroupSaint Louis HospitalParisFrance
  2. 2.Center for Research on End of Life CareWeill Cornell MedicineNew York CityUSA
  3. 3.New York Presbyterian HospitalNew York CityUSA

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