Navigating the Loss and Grief of a Nurse Suicide

Matthew S. Howard, DNP, RN, CEN, TCRN, CPEN, CPN; Michelle Buck, MSN, APRN; Holly Carpenter, BSN, RN; Kendra McMillan, MPH, RN


Am Nurs Journal. 2021;16(3) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Nurses are drawn together through shared patient experiences, staffing challenges, stressful situations, and positive patient outcomes. Working long hours together, nurses learn about the lives of their coworkers beyond the walls of the organization. They become extended family. These bonds make the loss of a colleague extremely difficult, but a nursing team's strong connections also provide support for coping with grief.

When a nursing colleague is lost to suicide, the fabric of the extended family is torn. The normal rhythm and flow of the workplace changes. Someone is missing from the shift. Even for nurses who are accustomed to loss of life at work, few are prepared for the loss of a friend and colleague, someone with whom they've shared the challenges and victories of patient care.

This article provides information for nurses, nurse leaders, and employers about the aftermath of a nurse colleague's death by suicide, including navigating the grieving process and honoring the nurse's memory.