Many childhood deaths in the United States occur in pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) and parents have special needs in this death context. As an interdisciplinary research team, we discuss conceptual and design issues encountered in creating a new instrument, the Bereaved Parent Needs Assessment-PICU, for assessing parents' needs in this setting. Using a qualitative approach, our team previously explored how the culture and related ways of providing care in one urban Midwestern children's hospital PICU affected parents' bereavement needs and experiences. We describe using this qualitative foundation in the development of a new quantitative instrument to more widely validate and measure bereaved parents' needs around the time of a child's death across multiple PICUs. We highlight a series of issues that warrant consideration in designing a research instrument for this vulnerable population including setting and context, format and content, temporality, recruitment, and content expertise.