The experience of parenting a premature or ill infant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be overwhelming and traumatic. Parents who have previously endured a reproductive loss may find that an accumulation of escalating distress related to nurturing a neonate while receiving care in intensive care compounded with lingering grief from a prior perinatal loss can overwhelm their capability to cope. The ambiguous nature of perinatal loss and societal disenfranchisement of the grief often results in a prolonged or complicated bereavement trajectory which can inhibit bonding, mental health, and physical wellness. The frequent contact and perinatal conversations between parents and clinicians provide opportunities for essential discussions about emotional vigor, grief, and bereavement. A review of the literature and current research found that initiating conversations and care modalities that facilitate Worden's “tasks of grieving” can foster a necessary healing pattern for bereaved parents. These efforts will theoretically nurture parent–child bonding and promote desirable neonatal outcomes.
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