Saw something that broke my heart

  1. I work hopsice. Yesterday one of our patients was actively dying. Let me give you a little background on the patient. 42 years old, Downs Syndrome, lives in institution. Mom and brother visit infrequently. Ok so when I got there yesterday this little guy was obviously not long for this world. His mom and brother came after several phone calls. After I assessed him I went over to his mom and in a low voice I said. Your son isn't doing well. I went through the signs of impending death, verbalized he was peaceful and wasn't suffering. And then I said. "He can still here you, so if you want go over and speak to him." She then said to me. "Oh, I have never spoke to him. I don't think he understands me" :uhoh21: Broke my heart. How can you not speak to this little guy. He had the sweetest face. He may not understand you, but what about a familar, kind voice? A living human being not spoke to by his mother. Then I tried to see her side. I know I have never dealt with a mentally ill child so maybe this was her defense mechanism. But I can't see myself not talking to my child. I mean, as soon as my children were born I was talking to them. Newborns that maybe couldn't understand the words coming from my mouth, but could sense the love. Am I being unreasonable? Sorry I am rambling but this has really bothered me.
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   leslie :-D
    can you remind the mother that her son will recognize her voice? if she still refuses, what about his sister?

    either way, you can certainly and lovingly speak to him- no matter who it is, it's human nature to respond to a soft, tender voice.

    may he find peace.

    leslie
  4. by   snowfreeze
    That made me cry.
  5. by   webblarsk
    He passed away yesterday. I tried to tell his mom that he may not understand the words but would recognize her voice. I don't know.........maybe it was her defense mechanism. I always spoke to him during the time I spent with him. Told him what I would be doing. Talked to him about the weather. Told him he had the prettiest hair I had ever seen. (gorgeous auburn color) The nurses that worked at the facility were also very good about talking to him. But something about the whole situation left me very unsettled.
  6. by   jnette
    ((((((((((HUGS)))))))))))) Webblarsk.

    And thank you for your compassion and your acts of tenderness toward this fellow human.

    It IS unsettling, I must agree. How very sad. Yet you and your coworkers were able to provide that soft, tender voice Leslie spoke of above.. and provide the touch he perhaps never felt, either. Please take comfort in that, and know that he passed surrounded by love.. regardless.

    Indeed, may he rest in peace.
  7. by   leslie :-D
    Quote from webblarsk
    He passed away yesterday. I tried to tell his mom that he may not understand the words but would recognize her voice. I don't know.........maybe it was her defense mechanism. I always spoke to him during the time I spent with him. Told him what I would be doing. Talked to him about the weather. Told him he had the prettiest hair I had ever seen. (gorgeous auburn color) The nurses that worked at the facility were also very good about talking to him. But something about the whole situation left me very unsettled.
    chances are you recognized that this poor soul has been (inadvertently) neglected throughout his life. and that is sad and tragic. may he rest in peace, God bless him.

    and you did him a great service webblarsk. :icon_hug:


    leslie
  8. by   dbsn00
    Quote from webblarsk
    He passed away yesterday. I tried to tell his mom that he may not understand the words but would recognize her voice. I don't know.........maybe it was her defense mechanism. I always spoke to him during the time I spent with him. Told him what I would be doing. Talked to him about the weather. Told him he had the prettiest hair I had ever seen. (gorgeous auburn color) The nurses that worked at the facility were also very good about talking to him. But something about the whole situation left me very unsettled.
    Your compassion helped this poor man go to his final rest peacefully, take comfort in the fact that you made a difference in his life. :angel2:
  9. by   snowfreeze
    Hugs, you are what makes nursing so special.
  10. by   prmenrs
    It might be possible that, @ the time this child was born, his family was advised "not to get attached", or even to institutionalize him right away. It used to happen. Often the OB would be the one telling her to do that, and that she "could have other children", and "to forget about this one". So there was no bonding, just a heartbroken mom.

    I'm glad you were there for him.
  11. by   kae rn
    It was so nice that you were there for him. I think that is what nursing is all about. Everyone is special and deserves a little compassion.
    As for the mom, I will share something once told me. I worked with severely handicapped children in a LTC facility, and often wondered why more parents didn't interact or even visit their children. It made me very sad. But, I was helped to understand that parents care in their own way. A lot of it has to do with their abilities to cope. When we see a parent visit, we don't see what happens when they go home--fall into a depressed state and stay in their room for months, resume drinking.... Thank God for nurses to step in and care. I know after having kids that the worse pain in the world is when your kids hurt. I have cried many tears for my "normal" kids, I can't even imagine some of these parents' pain.
    You deserve a big hug for being an assume nurse!
  12. by   apaisRN
    Quote from prmenrs
    It might be possible that, @ the time this child was born, his family was advised "not to get attached", or even to institutionalize him right away. It used to happen. Often the OB would be the one telling her to do that, and that she "could have other children", and "to forget about this one". So there was no bonding, just a heartbroken mom.
    Reading this made my stomach churn.

    I know it happened; it happened to my grandmother. I'm not close to that side of the family and I forget the details, but she had a child with congenital defects she wanted to care for at home. My grandfather, a small-town family physician, made her send the child to an institution, where he/she (I don't even know which) died.
  13. by   webblarsk
    And I did take into consideration that 42 years ago she may have been told not to get attached. And she may have been that way as a way to cope. I don't know the whole situation. But what I saw just broke my heart and made me thankful I could have been there for him.
  14. by   RedSox33RN
    That is so tragic and heartbreaking - on so many levels. That the mother never got the help she obviously needed, even in the later years, to come to know her son. And that he never got to know her. It's so sad to think that both will never know what they missed out on.

    It's comforting to know he had such a nice caregiver in you though, someone who truly cared.

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