PURPOSE Mental illness often changes families' lives and relationships forever. A Family Systems Nursing framework is proposed for working collaboratively with families. CONCLUSIONS The Illness Beliefs Model (Wright & Bell, 2009) offers clinicians ways to target illness beliefs that may perpetuate or, alternatively, soften suffering. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS We have learned from families that it is often not the family member with the illness who is suffering most, but rather, other family members. The complexity of "relational suffering" challenges mental health nurses to acquire knowledge and skills to work with families to soften physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual suffering.