Bizarre Reactions to Death - page 5

I was trying to think of a gentle, positive, and non-offensive way to start this thread, but... it's true. I've witnessed some really bizarre reactions to patient's deaths: by family, by staff, by... Read More

  1. by   dianthe1013
    Six months later, I unexpectedly burst into tears in the middle of a Walmart when I saw something Mom would have loved to have.
    That doesn't sound weird at all, Jeannie. Well, it might to some people, but I'm exactly like that, so I know what you mean. It's like I feel that someone has to take care of stuff, and it isn't going to be anyone else, so... It'll be me taking care of it. And crying in Wal-Mart six months later, too.

    A similar thing happened to me several months ago, though not a death. My father has non-small cell lung cancer and was undergoing a pneumonectomy. The surgeon harvested some lymph nodes and sent them off to the path lab for what I call "fast-slashing," basically to determine whether the cancer had metastasized yet. Well, the first node yielded a false positive result, so the surgeon halted the procedure and sewed him up. Well, my mom and my sister freaked out, so it was up to me to let everyone know what had happened and make with the happy outlook. It worked...until my grandmother, who is a nurse, showed up and gave me hell for being so calm when my dad's prognosis was so horribly poor. ***** I would've thought she, of all people, would understand...

    At any rate, I held it together long enough to find out that the false positive was just that. Now my father is up for a repeat of the surgery in a few months. He's not happy about being sawed in half again, but it's better than dying at 49, right?

    Donna
  2. by   flowerchild
    While attending a funeral in Southern GA at a Southern Baptist Church, I was awed by the family and freind reactions to death. Screaming, crying, throwing themselves at the dead person, speaking in tongues, etc. and I won't even begin to go into the sermon and service itself! Very scarry to me! I hid in the corner and watched and winced. I understand that it's not just this particular family but the way many in the area greive at the loss. At the grave site the directors refuse to lower the casket until everyone is gone b/c they have problems with people throwing themselves into the grave to be with their lost loved one. When MIL died I had to beg the director to let us watch b/c it was important to my son, he needed to see her burried in order to have peace of mind. OK with me, but we had to wait till everyone else left and then convince the funeral burial crew that it was actually OK and the right thing to do for us. They reluctantly and watchfully complied, finally.
    In the hospital I always knew when a family of similar background would loose someone to death b/c they would become out of control, howling and screaming while walking the hallways, flailing, fainting, etc, thus upsetting EVERYONE on the unit. It always took a few minutes and several people to redirect the family away and into a private area. My family is the opposite, very quiet and reserved at times of death, they don't talk much about it...which isn't such a great way to deal with it either imo. Took me a while to figure out what death was and find my own way to deal with it in my profession when I was a young/new nurse. As a child I never even had a dog die, so death was a foriegn subject to me.
  3. by   monkijr
    Originally posted by JeannieM
    This is a fascinating thread! Actually, one of the most bizarre reactions to death was my own, when my mother died suddenly, but not completely unexpectedly, of an MI. I was in graduate school at the time, and I received the call one morning a week before finals. My response:

    5. I finished up what had to be done, went back, only missed one class and took finals.
    Six months later, I unexpectedly burst into tears in the middle of a Walmart when I saw something Mom would have loved to have. I'm sure that at the time everyone thought I was the most cold-blooded daughter they'd ever seen. I have no idea what happened; I just went into auto-pilot. I couldn't even cry at the funeral! I know I couldn't explain my own. JeannieM

    Jeannie,
    This brought back memories of my own fathers' passing. one difference, I have 9 sisters and 7 brothers, I am the "baby". anyway, terminal CA, still hard to accept when it happens. I take matters under control, I sometimes think I was expected to be the strong one. Not realy sure why it happened the way it did, you go thru the motions. Then months later, I go visit mom, go to dad's room, smell his shirts, sit on his bed, and go outside to the driveway, fall on my knees and ball like a baby, If I remember correctly, it was the beginning of my grieving. Some things can't be explained. I remember my sisters and brother, crying.
  4. by   NurseWeasel
    I'm an autopilot person too! I had a barely-discernable reaction to my DEARLY beloved Grandpa's death, and then about 6 months to a year later I almost completely fell apart. It had a major impact on my life and lifestyle (the falling apart), and at the time I didn't see that it was connected to the grieving process, but it was.

    4 years later it was Grandma's turn to go and I determined that I would not allow myself to be undermined by my habit of "stuffing" my feelings and failing to acknowledge the pain and loss like that again. I would take care of myself so that I could take care of everyone and everything else.

    I did go on autopilot again during the time I needed to function to process paperwork and take care of business, but I also held myself accountable to feeling the grief, allowed myself to cry, and kept my promise not to "stuff it". It's been almost a year now and I can say that I have handled Grandma's passing in a much healthier manner.
  5. by   LasVegasRN
    Originally posted by flowerchild
    While attending a funeral in Southern GA at a Southern Baptist Church, I was awed by the family and friend reactions to death. Screaming, crying, throwing themselves at the dead person, speaking in tongues, etc. and I won't even begin to go into the sermon and service itself! Very scarry to me! I hid in the corner and watched and winced. I understand that it's not just this particular family but the way many in the area grieve at the loss. At the grave site the directors refuse to lower the casket until everyone is gone b/c they have problems with people throwing themselves into the grave to be with their lost loved one...
    I thought this was normal?? If none of this happens at a funeral in my family something is WRONG!! :chuckle
  6. by   rebelwaclause
    Originally posted by Gomer
    I had a family of gypsies (yes, real gypsies) react at the death of the father (leader of the pact) by urinating on the ambulance bay entrance. Must have been a curse on the hospital ....
    Naw dude, they're just freakin' weird!
  7. by   mario_ragucci
    I was weird when I asked to go to the cremetorium after my dad's service. No one else did, and no one else does, except those that do. I wanted to see what went on, but most everyone else says goodbye at the funeral palore or church. Except if it's your dad. Anyway, seeing the final goodbye as loading a cardboard box into huge furnice is your ticket to mortality. It's taboo totally, and even the funeral people told me few ask to go there. I had no idea my feelings would change about life as much as when the sound of that furnice kicked on (creepy) :-(
  8. by   NurseWeasel
    Mario, not to change the subject, but is that you with Santa? Very cute avatar.
  9. by   Enabled
    I recall two incidences. The first the patient said she did not want her husband there when she passed. She had terminal Ca. Well, they didn't have any children. He was an avid golfer and he left without realizing what was happening as she had requested. He had a tee time and just about the time he arrived and got to the tee she had passed. She did not want him to go through seeing her so bad. She really taught me a lot about living and dying Thanks Betty. I had a second patient who was really on the edge and just as she passed a family member screamed and it was enough to arouse for another few days. The family barred this member on the day she did pass so as not to prolong her suffering from an ungrateful offspring.
  10. by   suenurse54
    Originally posted by JeannieM
    This is a fascinating thread! Actually, one of the most bizarre reactions to death was my own, when my mother died suddenly, but not completely unexpectedly, of an MI. I was in graduate school at the time, and I received the call one morning a week before finals. My response:
    1. I called my sister and informed her (she lives over a thousand miles away).
    2. I e-mailed all of my professors and my study group, asking them to get me notes for the classes I might miss.
    3. I called my husband at work. He came home and helped me pack.
    4. I drove to the town where she had died, arranged the funeral, saw a lawyer to help clear up the estate, assumed executor role, and with my sister, who was pretty upset, and our families, sorted through Mom's house and possessions. (We get along great; there wasn't any fighting over Mom's things).
    5. I finished up what had to be done, went back, only missed one class and took finals.
    Six months later, I unexpectedly burst into tears in the middle of a Walmart when I saw something Mom would have loved to have. I'm sure that at the time everyone thought I was the most cold-blooded daughter they'd ever seen. I have no idea what happened; I just went into auto-pilot. I couldn't even cry at the funeral!
    So bizarre responses to death? Families themselves probably couldn't explain them. I know I couldn't explain my own. JeannieM

    This reaction is post traumatic stress syndrome. It is seen quite often in people who, for whatever reason, are unable to grieve at the time. You think you are doing great at the time but it really isn't healthy. Not that you did anything wrong. You just did your grieving 6 months later. Hope you are doing well now.

    Sue
  11. by   RNFROG3
    I had amentor thru Nursing school named Nancy she was a CPT in the army with me in Desert Storm and had to be evaced back due to a heart attack. When I started school every drill(once a month) she'd ask me about my studies , help me with any problems, tell me pittfalls she had during school and always encourage me. She missed 3 drills and on the 4th we were informed she passed away from leukemia. She never had told us. Well on the way home the song by Boys to men and Mariah Carey came on about "see you in Heaven" can't remember the name of the silly song but it was the first time I'd heard it. I got to hear it 3 more times on the way home and each time it got me bawling so hard I had to pull over. It still can get me teary 7 yrs later but I try to remember how wonderful she was and what a gift she gave me.
  12. by   Katana
    The two that I remember fondly:

    We have a monestary here and one of the Brothers was in our hospital and was dying. Very calmly one of them came to the nurses station and said, "I believe that Brother has passed." I went in for the usual checks and he was no longer with us. I explained that my word wasn't official and that the Dr would do the final pronouncement. After this was done and after we had prepared the body for the viewing of the other Brothers who came in the most beautiful voices floated out of that room. Gregorian Chant type male voices. Other patients on the unit commented on how beautiful the sound was.

    The second one was a mother dying. Both her daughters were at her bedside. Very worried and hovering. Constantly asking if their Mother was in pain, why was it taking so long for her to die, or if there was anything that they could do. I medicated their Mother but then took both daughters out of the room for a short time and asked, "You both know that your Mother is dying but have you ever told her that the two of you would be okay and that it was fine for her to pass on and that she didn't have to worry about them because they had eachother for support." They looked at me sorta stunned. I explained that some parents worry about their children and how they will be after they are gone and this can slow them from passing.

    Both looked at me and smiled then went in and talked with their Mom... explaining that they were both going to be okay and that it was okay for Mom to let go and leave the pain in her body.

    About 2 hours later, the daughters came up to the nurses station and asked for me.... I went in and there Mom had died. Both daughters were crying yet smiling sad but gentle smiles, too. They looked at me and said, "Look, you were right! Look at how peaceful she is!! She's no longer in pain. We never thought she was hanging on for us!"

    Yes, I've had the same deaths on the unit where family haven't seen their "loved one" in years but all come out of the woodwork as soon as death is imenent. Too bad they didn't want to see the person alive.

    Then you also have the patients who want to be DNR but who's children come in and rescend the order or talk their parents out of it. They aren't the ones suffering the pain.... they are the one suffering the loss of a loved one that they are not ready to let go no matter what.

    The longer we are in nursing the more different deaths we will all experience both the good and the bad.

    Kat
  13. by   rncountry
    The second patient I ever had die was a lung CA terminal patient. Came in comatose, so she could not tell us what she wanted. Two daughters, one wants DNR, the other wants us to do everything. They are the only children, husband has passed away several years ago. All day long I am trying to get them to agree to something. The one who wants everything is doing the rosary as quick and often as she can, the other one is swearing about the Catholic church.
    Time comes when mom quits breathing, I call the code, nothing in writing for no code. I am a 2 months out of school RN and shaking like a leaf. As I start CPR, the one sister grabs me and tells me she will beat my ass if I touch her mother again, the other sister grabs my other arm and threatens me if I don't. By this time the code team from ICU is there, who come to a screeching halt while they watch me get hanked between the two, couldn't have lasted more than 3 seconds while they stood there, but to me it was an eternity. The doc comes in yells at the two sisters to get their hands off me, I flee the room and ask the ward clerk to please call the priest or a nun or whatever. This is in a little bitty 60 bed Catholic hospital. I didn't need to ask because just as I get the request out of my mouth here comes the nun. I'm blabbering away trying to explain what is happening, she brushed me aside, walked into the patients room and took charge of the two sisters, who she apparently knew. After speaking to the sister with the rosary, she agreed to have the code stopped. The whole thing couldn't have lasted more than 5 minutes.
    I went into the bathroom and had a good cry.

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