death - page 4

I AM A NEW NURSING GRADUATE AND I RECENTLY CAME UPON MY FIRST DEATH OF ONE OF MY PATIENTS. I FELT HORRIBLE EVEN THOUGH IT WASN'T PREVENTABLE AND THERE WAS NOTHING ANYONE COULD HAVE DONE. DO NURSES... Read More

  1. by   CATHYW
    A doc that WASN"T on call coming in at 0300 because his expired pt's nurse was taking the death hard? That man is a gem! You were very fortunate that this man took his profession seriously. Wow!
  2. by   CATHYW
    Tai and Dennie, my heart goes out to you. Today Nov. 7, is my mother's 74th birthday. she lives another state away, and we don't see each other often, but just knowing that she is there means everything. I have been with others at the time they've lost their mothers (one on Christmas morning!), and there is no other way to say it-it's rough!
    Dennie, my goodness, what a thing for a 12 year old to experience. Thank goodness your Grandma and the ambulance folks were there.
    My mother's youngest sister passed away in 1967 at the age of 36 from complications from bilateral breast CA. Her daughter, the oldest, was 12, also. Your story hit me hard, because of thinking of the loss from my cousin's perspective. Wow!
    I hope today is a better day for you all.
    Cathy
  3. by   Scarlette
    I'm a new nurse (only 5 weeks on the job) and just experienced my first patient death early this morning. I was in the room helping another nurse and the patient slumped over, gasped for a few minutes and passed away. It was an "expected" death but it didn't ease the pain at all. The mother of the woman and her brother was there when it happened. I kept begging the woman to take another breath but she died. I was okay at first with it, but when the mom started to cry I lost it. Luckily there were 3 other nurses in the room at that point so I politely excused myself and went into the med room and sobbed for a few minutes. I've experienced death with family members and a friend, but I've never been there when someone took their last breath. I'm glad the woman isn't suffering anymore but it was horrible the way she was gasping for her last breaths. I had 5 hours left on my shift and it was the worst 5 hours I've ever experienced at a job.......I cried all the way on my drive home...............
  4. by   hoolahan
    Scarlette, this is exactly what I was referring to. I am assuming your co-workers understood why you excused yourself from the room. Did any of them come to you to see if you were OK? I sincerely hope so. Even if a nurse doesn't start to cry, we still need to tell each other it's OK and be there for each other, ask if the person wants to talk about it. For whatever reason, tho we may only know a pt 30 min before they die, they may have touched us in some way.

    Dennie, I am so sorry you had to go thru that at such a tender age. I am glad that you shared this with us.
  5. by   nicola
    I just think this is the coolest thread! Americans tend to deny death and not talk about it. When it visits us, and it inevitably does, we push thru it and try to get on asap. A good friend of my family recently lost her husband - not unexpectedly, but awfully. Her sibs are telling her "He's buried. Get over it and get on with life." Mind you, he died last week! Sigh. It's good to know that there are loving people around who aren't afraid to cry or to talk about death. Y'all are the best!
  6. by   KatWright
    Scarlette
    I work on an Oncology unit and have for years. We also have Hospice patients on our unit. Some times we get the terminal weans (adult only) and others that are actively dying. "We do dying so well" In other words, other units are uncomfortable with it.
    I have often cried with the family members, the families that we have known for years during the cancer therapy and the families that we have only known for a few hours. It all depends, and I don't even know what it depends on ;-))

    Sometimes the situation calls for a good cry. The family needs a hug, I need a hug and, well, that usually starts the waterfall.
    OK, so you need to carry your mascara in your purse and your nose will be pink for a while, but it is necessary to get it out. You'll feel better and you know, the families usually are unaware that WE grieve too, over their loss and ours.

    We had our Cancer Center Rememberance Ceremony the other night and it was sooooooooo wonderful to see how well these families are doing. Oh, they have their good days and bad, and sometimes they are getting along minute by minute, but they are able to come back to the place where their loved one died and celebrate their life.

    One of the nurses wrote a poem (with a little input from other nurses) that told the family just how much we do care, how much we grieve and how much we remember their family member. There was not a dry eye in the house !! The MD that did a talk during the program came over to give her a kiss and hug and HE had tears in his eyes (As a matter of fact, he had to stop a few times duing his 5 minute talk to regain composure !! and he's been doing this for 31 YEARS !!!)

    OK, so you cried. Thats OK, thats good and I would rather you cry than build a wall so that you cannot touch your patients and have them touch you.
    Just smile and remember a neet thing that the patient (or family) told you about them!!
    I took care of a big burly retired policemen and as his kids and I were standing around the bed with tears running down our faces, one of the daughters told a story about him. He was a rookie, on a funeral detail. It was a Catholic Mass (a long one) so the Captain told the detail to go across the street to the pub. So they did. When the Mass was over, they wobbled back to the church, the casket was brought out on the rolling platform. Since the rookie officers were a bit tipsy, someone missed a step and the casket slid all the way down the long cement stairway. Luckily the family hadn't made it out of the church yet, so when they did the officer had already picked up the casket and were putting it in the herse for the ride to the cemetary.
    We were all laughing soooo hard that when the priest came in to see the family he thought he had the wrong room !!!
    I sit here now and smile, thinking about this man who was soooo funny. When he no longer had the strength to void (prostate problems) he told me that he needed the catheter......"But I don't want the Irish one" (I'm thinking......WHAT IS HE TALKING ABOUT???????) I said "Irish?" He said "Yeah you know Foley"
    I kept a straght face and reassured him that I would get a #18 FRENCH catheter. He was happy with that and it went in easy as slicing soft butter !!! He died the next day surrounded by love.
    How cool is that.

    You are OK, Scarlette !! Don't ever think differently
    Kat
  7. by   Scarlette
    Ok guys.......when will I stop crying???? I feel like an idiot now...it's been 3 days and I can cry at the drop of a hat....I'm crying while I write this...I'm so pathetic! Guess it's time to face my inner demons. When will I get over this? This wasn't my patient, I was only with her for 10 minutes or so and the way my emotions are running you'd think she was a family member of mine. Why is this so difficult for me? I'm usually not an emotional person like this. Now I feel like some kind of cry baby...the worst part is that I have to pull myself together and go to work in 2 hours....first day back to work since it happened.
  8. by   Cubby
    I am sorry for your loss. I have been in nursing for over 22 years, and yes it still hurts somewhat when I lose a resident. But I am glad that I get to help that person 'cross over' No one gets to live forever and I know that when it comes my time to die, I want someone there who will help me 'cross over' with the same dignity and care that I hopefully give to my residents. So remember, when you feel the hurt that comes with the kind of work you do it is ecause you do it very well.
  9. by   semstr
    hy Scarlette,
    please see my "reply" under the thread crying= etc.!

    Take care, I am going to sleep!
    Renee
  10. by   betts
    My thoughts are with you. I hope this poem helps you deal with your sorrow.

    I'm Free"

    Don't grieve for me; for now I'm free,
    I'm following the path God laid for me.
    I took His hand when I heard Him call,
    I turned my back and left it all.

    I could not stay another day,
    To laugh, to love, to work or play.
    Tasks left undone must stay that way,
    I found that place at the close of day.

    If my parting has left a void,
    Then fill it with remembered joy.
    A friendship shared; a laugh, a kiss,
    Ah yes, these things; I too, will miss.

    Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
    I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
    My life's been full; I savored much,
    Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.

    Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,
    Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
    Lift up your heart and share with me,
    God wanted me now; He set me free.
    Author unknown
  11. by   hoolahan
    Betts, thank you for posting that, it is beautiful.

    We had a resident of our independent living facility murdered in cold blood right in front of our Home Health Aides' eyes! Their supervisor on eves also saw the body, and it has very very taumatic for all of them. I forgot that these HHA's may not have ever worked in a hospital or in hopsice, so they are really freaked out, not just by the violence, by death itself, by the fact that they do not feel safe in their work environments anymore, it's been a really rough week.

    This man was a pt of mine thru VNA as well. His case manager and nurse for years, at least 6, is wrecked. When I tell you this guy was the most amazing person I know, it is not an understatement. I am still finding out more of his good deeds as more people share stories of Lou. He even spent a phenomenal amount of time working on the Megan's laws issues.

    Anyway, I am printing this out on pretty paper and posting it in the HHA station. I think it will give them some comfort. Thanks again Betts.
  12. by   Michelle_nurse
    Canoehead, your post last month about "connecting with the family is not the job, it is what you give from yourself" really hit me. I am a geriatric nurse. I have been working as a nurses aid in geriatrics for almost 4 years now, but recently graduated as an RN.

    I have had many patients die on and off my shifts, and sometimes it hurts more than others, I work in a LTC hospital only for war veterans, and it is normal for a floor to completely be replaced by new patients.
    Because the patients live at the hospital, (there are active and sicker patients), the patients begin to feel like family sometimes, in certain cases. We see them and their families daily, and it can really hurt to see a patient get sick and quickly die.

    I still feel like it is hard to deal with the families, at times.
    Often I don't know what I am supposed to say. I know it is a difficult moment, and they will always remember who they dealt with when their loved one died.
    I don't want to say the wrong thing, I don't want to invade in their private time, and I feel like I shouldn't be hugging them and crying (although I usually cry when they're not looking). This is usually the case when I don't know the family well.

    I had one of my favorite patients die one night, and it hurt a lot, cause I had cared for him for almost 2 years, and when his family came, I had never met them. (they didn't visit). It felt like they thought I was just a nurses aid, doing my job. But to me, it felt like more than that. I was holding this patients hand, left the room for a minute, came back and he was dead............I was so upset cause I didn't want him to die alone, and I missed it by a minute........then the family came.
  13. by   hoolahan
    Michelle, sometimes you don't have to say anything. Just be there, place your arm on a shoulder, have tissues ready. Offer some coffee. These little kindnesses are the things people remember. WE used to have these great overhead warmers on the CT ICU, so after we cleaned the person up, we dimmed the lights, and kept the warmer on to the last possible minute, so the person would still feel warm.

    If the resident spoke of anyone share that, and if appropriate, reassure them that the person was not in any pain, and if possible, that they didn't die alone (if it's the truth. If they flat out ask you with that wide-eyed anxious look, he didn't die alone, did he, frankly, my advice is to lie, and say, no. I am sure God would forgive you for that one. What could having them go home feeling guilty over thier loved one dying alone possibly accomplish? The person would not want anyone to suffer over that I bet!)

    We camped out at my grandpa's bedside for 2 weeks, and I swear he waited for the minute we all went to get coffee to die. I truly believe that some people "want" to be alone at that time. Others I have seen hang on for hours with practically no BP until family made it in from out of town. So, Michelle, it may have been he needed some privacy for his moment. I am sure he was grateful for the time you did spend with him. {{{{{MIchelle}}}}}

    Betts, I had to bring this back up, so I could thank you a million times for posting that poem. The response has been overwhelming. I took it in and taped it in the same spot on the window where Lou's obit was posted. Everytime someone read it, they asked one of the aides to make them a copy. All of the aides made copies. Then I found out yesterday that Lou's sisters were in his apartment removing all of his things this past week, and they saw it and asked for copies. It has touched a great many people. You did a very sweet thing by posting it here, and your kindness is being multiplied a thousand fold! I had a chance to speak to the one HHA I was most worried about yesterday, she said she was very moved by the poem. I also shared with her how when we had lost several peds pt's in a week once, our manager called for a critical stress debrief. I told her how it really helped, since I was always thinking I had to be strong, then I found out, everyone was feeling the same way. She then said, that was just how she felt, like she needed to be strong, and for her to talk about it was a weakness. All of this, b/c she felt that when I put up the poem, I really understood how she felt, so she trusted me. Which is good, b/c out critical stress debrief person cancelled on me, so I had to get them some help by other ways, like giving phone numbers and forms, but not really what I had hoped to do for them

    Has anyone ever participated in a critical stress debrief? Do you think it helped? I did, just wondering.

    {{{{{betts}}}}}

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