I saw my first patient that died today... - page 3

This was a patient that I had for clinical 2 weeks ago and today when I went in they said that a patient had died this morning and asked if any of the students would like to perform or observe... Read More

  1. by   EarthChild1130
    I work on an oncology unit, and our patients are adult, and for the most part DNR, so when a patient passes away it is not totally unexpected, and while I have learned to deal with it, it has only become less stressful, but not easier...I do agree with one poster in that I feel that I am privileged to share in that time with my patient, and able to comfort him/her in a time of need, and hopefully able to share with the family as well. I also enjoy particularly that part of nursing, and while it is never easy, death is not scary to me...after all, as Albus Dumbledore says in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", 'to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.' You will find your coping mechanism.
  2. by   kmwlpn
    i have worked in long-term care for 11 years, and i believe it may get easier, as far as for you emotionally to watch someone die. but when you get were it does not affect you at all, it's time to change professions.
  3. by   Agnus
    It was over 30 years ago for me. So I honestly do not remember the first time. For me performing post mortum care is a sacred act. (not religiously)

    It deserves reverence and respect. Whether I new the person or not I perfom it with dignity. Perhaps because of my reverence for the final passing (what ever that might be) of a living person I always have feeling about a death. Sometimes I cry sometimes not but it is the closest thing for me to bing intouch with the wonder and mystery of the universe. Birth and death are closely related to this wonder and mystery that aws us all. I think that is way so many young women what to be OB nurses.
  4. by   purplemania
    It gets easier in the sense that you come to terms with it depending on you belief system and other factors. I hope death always affects you to some degree, as that may keep you a nurturing and caring nurse.
  5. by   Blessed2BeMommy
    I am sure that personal beliefs and life experiences change how this impacts us.

    When I was 9 my mother developed malignant melanoma and was given a 50% chance of living 3 years and a 30% chance of living five years. Well, she is proof that you cannot quantify the human spirit. My mom and I are at odds most of the time, but I love her dearly, and she loves me. And she is still around driving me nutso, so that is a good thing. But we always lived with the spectre of... this could be the last day. She also had thyroid cancer 10 years ago and breast cancer 5 years ago. These were not metastases.... totally separate cancers. Her oncologist says that people who conquer this many cancers never die of cancer.

    When I was 12 one of my best friends was killed, on her 13th birthday, by a drunk driver. It was a much more innocent time.... we were all allowed to walk to the ice cream parlor without any adults! (And I am NOT that old!) and being excited, PJ was the first one into the intersection when the walk signal came on. The drunk ran the light and hit her... they say she died on the initial impact and didn't feel it when she hit the ground.

    At 18, another of our group died from an asthma attack. She and the other friend who died had been inseparable until the original accident, so losing this friend was a double shock for both sets of parents and all of us friends.

    At 19, another close friend was shot to death by an armed gunman at the movie theater he managed.

    At this point, I took a job at a funeral home. I dealt with death day in and day out, and families.

    I then cared for my MIL from the time her kidneys failed until she died six months later. I was present at her death and encouraged my then 5 year old daughter to touch the body and see that it was no longer her beloved grandmother, but only "old clothes" that she didn't need anymore. Alison was aware of a couple of miscarriages we had had, so we talked about how Grandma was up in heaven taking care of the babies. (My MIL had been an RN in postpartum nursery)

    My first CNA job was in an SICU. I always, as another poster put it, considered it a privilege to do the postmortem care. It was the final act of kindness and another CNA who I totally respected, told me that she felt it was important to talk to the patient and "assist them" in their "journey". That is not exactly how my personal religious faith views it, but close enough that it felt like the right way to handle the situation.

    Then I moved to labor and delivery and found that one of my jobs was to care for the fetal demises. One time I was even called upon to hold a dying 21 weeker while the medical staff attempted to keep his twin inside and alive. Mom and dad were not up to attending to this little one, so I held him while he died. It was my job to take photographs, make baby books, hand and foot prints, locks of hair if there were any. I made babies presentable and dressed them so mom and dad could hold them and say goodbye. I always made extra hand and footprints on a card and would tell moms, "Es para su bolso"... it's for your purse (most of my clients spoke Spanish)... Mom may not want to drag the babybook around but being able to keep those little prints in her purse allow her to remind herself that her baby was real, if tiny, and her grief was real.

    I should be sitting for my LPN within the month and have decided I want to work at a pediatric nursing home where kids who are medically fragile, on vents, or pediatric hospice go. It seems to be where God is calling me to go... and I hope I will be able to be a comfort to the patients and families.
  6. by   brendamyheart
    I will never forget my first death. Was in the Army. Had a patient in full body cast. When he coded, could not do CPR. He was a young man. I remember clawing at the cast and calling out to someone help me remove that dam cast!! I will never forget that! I now accept each death as God,s will. If I am there when someone takes their last breath, I hold their hand and tell the family it was a peaceful death and he/she was not alone.
  7. by   PeachyERNurse
    Quote from heartlover07
    This was a patient that I had for clinical 2 weeks ago and today when I went in they said that a patient had died this morning and asked if any of the students would like to perform or observe post-mortem care. I was reluctant but thought I am going to have to deal with it at some time or another, so may as well go in and do it. I did not know at the time that it was my patient from two weeks ago cause she had moved to a different room and they did not tell us the name of the patient. I was surprised to see that it was her because two weeks ago she was walking and talking. Turns out that over the last week she had been changed to hospice care and this morning she died. I am trying to deal with it but I have never seen a dead body other than my grandmother at the funeral home, and it was just strange. Does it get easier?

    I'm a PCT/nursing student. I also recently had my first patient die. Well, he wasn't mine, he was another PCT's but I had to help her provide post mortem care. I've only been to two funerals in my life and I didn't really look at the bodies (I was a kid), so this was kinda my first real experience with death. It's weird. I know we all die, but it's like you don't face your own mortality until you see a dead body for yourself. When I walked into the room to help put this guy in the body bag (sorry, don't know what else to call it), I felt so numb and empty. This guy looked like his was just sleeping. I kept asking myself "is he really dead." It was like my brain couldn't comprehend that he was actually dead. Well, it finally hit me that he really was dead when I helped the other PCT put the guy in the bag and she zipped it up. It was a horrible experience , but I know I might as well get used to it 'cause I'll be an RN in less than a year. I really do hope it gets easier .
  8. by   MaineEMT2RN
    Please forgive my newbie student question. What's involved in post mortem care?
  9. by   CRNI-ICU20
    "does it get easier?"
    maybe a little.....i agree with the others who alluded to how personal this moment is....and just how we relate to life and death anyway....some of us internalize our feelings about it....some of become a bit jaded as our way of coping....some of us cry.....some of us feel relief for the one who was suffering a long painful journey toward death....it just all depends on our individual selves and what has shaped our views about death and dying...
    some of us who may have a spiritual belief system of afterlife, or heaven, may have in the course of the grief, a comfort in knowing that the patient was no longer suffering.....others find that it's just a fact of living....that we all will die one day...and sometimes as nurses, we are going to face that moment with a patient or even a loved one....
    some really good reading is available on this subject....of course elizabeth kubler ross's studies have been very helpful for those trying to deal with this in their lives....i have enjoyed reading books by dr. bernie seigel....love, medicine, and miracles is one of his best...
    they helped to shape my philosophy of death and dying and living....
    that, and my faith....i hope you find a place of comfort .....a good place to go when you are faced with this again....
    just like they said...it's okay to cry....to feel sadness....

    here's a poem i published some years ago....on that subject...
    for the love of moe
    i saw the daisy you laid on his grave,
    your grief was raw and deep.
    your love of him taught each of us
    about promises to keep.
    the loss you feel must hurt the most
    when you pass this sacred place.
    it shares with us his life, his death,
    the leaving of the space.
    it's good you feel this loss, this pain.
    it shows how much you care.
    to grieve this much, and love this much,
    is a risk too few often dare.
    international library of poetry...."holding on to forever"
  10. by   djewel
    I think it will get easier. I remember my first pt, that died. I was very emotional about it, I was crying so hard, my instructor told me not to be in the room with the pt. after the death. I still remember that day, it was very hard. I think I grew from that first time in seeing a pt. I cared for and now gone. She was getting ready to go home, and had turned for the worst. I have been a nurse for 15 years, and it is never easy, but you learn to cope, and being there for the family is so important. I worked for Hospice for awhile in my later years, and it seemed I was always around death. I would think of my own family making my trips to see my pt's. I think God allowed me to do this kind of work, because I have such a soft spot for the dying and I needed to experience this over and over, to make me into a caring nurse. It has gotten easier, but it will never be something I go through and not learn from. Life is a gift. Being a nurse, is so special. It will make you a better person. You learn to deal with it, and to be strong for the family, that needs you even if you think you did so little, the family will always be grateful to a caring nurse. After 15 years of dealing with the living and the dying, it is all apart of living. Death is not the end, it is the begining. It makes me feel like I was glad to be apart of the pt's life, during the time of need. It will get better, and it will make you stronger, and you will grow and learn in away that is needed in order to become a good nurse. Good Luck and God Bless.:smiletea:
  11. by   djewel
    I think it will get easier. I remember my first pt, that died. I was very emotional about it, I was crying so hard, my instructor told me not to be in the room with the pt. after the death. I still remember that day, it was very hard. I think I grew from that first time in seeing a pt. I cared for and now gone. She was getting ready to go home, and had turned for the worst. I have been a nurse for 15 years, and it is never easy, but you learn to cope, and being there for the family is so important. I worked for Hospice for awhile in my later years, and it seemed I was always around death. I would think of my own family making my trips to see my pt's. I think God allowed me to do this kind of work, because I have such a soft spot for the dying and I needed to experience this over and over, to make me into a caring nurse. It has gotten easier, but it will never be something I go through and not learn from. Life is a gift. Being a nurse, is so special. It will make you a better person. You learn to deal with it, and to be strong for the family, that needs you even if you think you did so little, the family will always be grateful to a caring nurse. After 15 years of dealing with the living and the dying, it is all apart of living. Death is not the end, it is the begining. It makes me feel like I was glad to be apart of the pt's life, during the time of need. It will get better, and it will make you stronger, and you will grow and learn in away that is needed in order to become a good nurse. Good Luck and God Bless.:smiletea:
  12. by   macspuds
    You all represent what Nursing is all about.
    I am in hopes that this mind set is what is Really in you all when you post thoughts for others to read.
    Once in a while I get to feeling badly when I read what seems to me lack of compassion and caring.
    Death is never a pleasant thing, but if we can make things any easier for those who are going through it, then that is a good thing.
    macspuds
  13. by   IKSONAK
    Heartlover, it doesn't get 'easier', but you learn to deal with it.You usually have more than one patient to consider....the actual patient and the family.Having worked in hospice,we learned ways to treat the patient AND the family. It's heartbreaking all around. Your name says it all, you have heart and you will learn as time goes on.Be sure to always take care of the caregiver, and that means you, too.

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