Holding a dead baby. Standing up to a supervisor. Washing a bedridden patient's hair. Talking past and through one another in a case conference. Smoothing a sheet over a patient's disintegrating body. Firing a longtime friend and co-worker. Literature can be a rich source of guidance to help with contemporary ethical dilemmas facing health care professionals and patients. Poems and stories can help to identify moral problems, promote empathy, and tolerate ambiguity in health and illness. The depth and detail within stories and poems allow readers to experience the contradictory feelings, complex relationships, and situational messiness that characterize ethical quandaries in actual practice. These works by women in health care contribute to our understanding by introducing characters who struggle with illness and aging or who try to make sense of their own feelings in the face of pain and mortality. Who better to capture the essence of this complexity than people working directly within it?