what are some things you do for family members dealing with grief?

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    Hey you guys, I've been a nurse 6 years and just recently started in the ICU. I'm doing well with all the assessments, skills,etc. It's hard for me to find words for my family members dealing with the death of their loved one and after their loved one has died. Any advice or good articles/references you can recommend? I totally am giving tissues, offering drinks and saying I'm sorry, as well as allowing the family members as much time as they need with their loved one.
    Any recommendations would be appreciated.
    Kimmie
  2. 4 Comments so far...

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    Sometimes I say just a simple "I'm sorry" or "I'm sorry for your loss"and nothing else. There is nothing else to say. I tell them I am giving them privacy to visit and shut the doors, shades/curtains. I tell them they can bring everyone in the room for however long they need; children too. I tell them they can come in anytime they would like with the exception of shift change (for HIPPA) except for a unit that a solid door can be closed. I of course, clear this with the charge nurse first. I provide kleenex, chairs for the elderly. I let them know that I am close by if they "need anything at all" I am here. "(I phrase it just like that to them). Before they arrive, I make sure the patients face is washed, hair is nice as possible, the patients hands are free and arms laying straight so its easer to be held and the bed is at a good height so the elderly and/or children can see/touch the patient. If I need to check on VS or anything else, I do it very quickly by only opening a blind very briefly. I try to stay out of the room while they are there to give them the privacy to grieve. I also make sure no ancillary staff goes into the room except for chaplain services. If the patient is having unstable vital signs and expected to expire any moment, I turn off the monitor so the family won't be distracted. If not turning off the monitor, at least turn off all alarms. I may turn off the IV pumps too depending on the situation. I also make sure the chaplain is notified ASAP.I work in a critical care unit. I know some of this may not apply. But, this is what I have learned to do over the years. Hope this helps.
    t2kck likes this.
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    How does a nurse deal with family members grieving over the death of their loved one? I think you already answered the question. Grief is difficult. Allow the family the dignity to mourn. You are exactly what ICU nurses should be, empathetic. When you have the angry family member who wants to sue you for not doing enough, write again.
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    I've found, in addition to tissues, chairs, etc, the best thing I can do for a family is to be near. Sometimes it's as little as laying a hand on a shoulder works wonders. I'm always amazed how many times the family will thank me, especially when we've withdrawn care. I've found that turning off the monitor in the room is a good idea, that way they focus on the pt rather than the numbers. You'll find your own methods.
  6. 1
    Quote from MollNick
    ... If I need to check on VS ... If the patient is having unstable vital signs and expected to expire any moment, I turn off the monitor ... turn off the IV pumps too
    Why is someone who is expected to die still having vitals taken, ivfl's and a monitor?
    This baffles me, even where I work
    that could be a whole other thread!
    umcRN likes this.


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