What can health care providers do if they do not have patient debriefing sessions or grief support services in their workplace?

If health care providers are not part of a team where grief support services are provided, they can still engage in personal processes, such as journaling or connecting with others. The latter may involve debriefing with a trusted colleague or meeting privately with a counsellor on their own time. Many employment assistance programs across the country include this service as a work benefit.

It is important for health care providers to pay attention to their own needs for self-care and to do what works for them. They need to find their own ways to replenish while caring for others. Taking care of themselves physically by ensuring they get regular exercise, adequate sleep and good nutrition is essential. Health care providers also need to take care of their minds and spirits in a way that “works” for them, by planning a holiday, treating themselves to a massage, and participating in activities they finding fulfilling, such as walking, yoga, listening to music, reading, or participating in a faith community.


Sinclair S. Impact of death and dying on the personal lives and practices of palliative and hospice care professionals. CMAJ. 2011;183(2):180-7.

Kearney, MK, Weininger RB, Vachon ML, Harrison RL, Mount BM. Self-care of physicians caring for patients at the end of life: “being connected... a key to my survival.” JAMA. 2009;301(11):1155-64.