Originally posted by KellRN:
Hello, I am an oncology nurse, and I see death just about everyday. I take care of a lot of people who know they are dying and already consider themselves dead. That is very discouraging and it is difficult to deal with. I never know what to say to them. Then, there are the people who tell me how much they have enjoyed their life and that they would not have done anything differently. They don't have any regrets. This gives me a totally different perspective on dying, and I can almost see it as a celebration of someone's life. These are the deaths that are easier for me to deal with. I just wish I knew the right words for those who are not ready to die. I would love any good advice.
I worked in oncology for over 10 years. People I worked with and patient and their families would tell me that I was very good at dealing with death and dying. The way I see it, I was just being myself. I empathized with the patient and their families. I made it known to them that it was okay to be angry, upset, hurt. I told families many times to go home and shout to the walls that it was not fair. I told them it was okay to cry, and to let the patient see that, so they can talk about what's going on. I found that it helped me also in dealing with their impending death. Some deaths really effected me, some not so much. I always made it known to the patient and their families that I was there to listen, cry or even laugh with them. I like to hold the patients hands to, that comforts them and me. We all became nurses to help people with their illnesses, and diseases. With all the inroads in medicine, we are able to keep people alive for longer periods of time. But are they living, or surviving? Nurses help people, whether it it to get better and move on with their lives, or if they are at the end of their life. I tell patients there are two kinds of fight. One is to fight for the cure and the other is to say "nothing else is going to help, so lets make my life, whats left of it as comfortable, and productive as can be, even if it's only a day, week, month, year or 20 years left. That is very hard because we are taught that we must treat and cure everything even at the expense of a patient or family saying "No more. Sometimes healing is having to die. We help patients over that hill. It helps to have your faith. Faith can help patients and you over the rough spots, as far as knowing what to say, it's not what you say sometimes it's your actions mostly that help patients and families deal with dying. Even just saying to them "I don't know what to say" or "I can only imagine what your are going through" I found that those two lines helped my patients more than anything else. It sometimes opened up the flood gates to an understanding between the family or patient and me.