Should Nurses attend patient funerals

  1. I'm hoping that someone can point me in the right direction. I'm doing a essay for uni looking at if there is any benefit for nurses or patient families if the nurses attend the funerals of their patients. If anyone has a personal experience to share or can point me towards some research I would be most appreciative.

    Many thanks
    Hayden McDonald
    RN
    bendall@comcen.com.au
    •  
  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   nurse deb


    I attended a patient's funeral years ago when I was in nursing school. He had been one of my favorite patients. He was dying from AIDS and many healthcare workers were afraid to even touch him on the shoulder. He had been disowned by his Father and had only occasional visits from his Mother. It was a sad case watching him waste away. He finally died after much suffering. I attended his funeral and it was the saddest, eeriest thing ever! I was in the funeral parlor completely alone with the open casket. He was dressed in casual clothes and had a stuffed animal in his arms. There were only one or two visitor's signatures in the entire book. I am glad that I went. I haven't been to one since, but I don't see anything wrong with showing your respect for a patient and his family.
  4. by   Anaclaire
    I've attended several over the past 10 years. In the NICU a group of us would often attend the funeral of a baby and we'd always dress in our uniforms as a way of letting the family and friends of the baby know how much he/she was loved by his nurses. This also kept funeral visitors from wondering who the strange faces belonged to. Sometimes I couldn't attend a funeral so I'd drop by the funeral home and sign their guest book and then write that I had been on of the person's nurses in parentheses.

    I've received nothing but thank you's from the families. It means an awful lot to the family to know that their loved one was loved by many people.

    Just curious... does anyone think nurses shouldn't attend funerals or sign the book at the funeral home? I just can't see anything wrong with it...
  5. by   misti_z
    My grandparents are both recently retired CNAs for hospice. They would frequently attend funerals, along with the nurses. They always wore all white to the funerals, as did the nurses. They received many 'Thank you' notes from families for there caring behavioar and 'going above and beyond'.
  6. by   spineCNOR
    Like Anaclaire when I worked NICU in the past, I along with other nurses from the unit, attended funerals of patients.
    After caring for a baby for several weeks or months we often developed a very stong bond with the baby and the parents. In my experience, the parents of the baby were always appreciative of the nurses who came to the funeral or to the funeral home. Attending the funeral for a long-time patient who has died also serves to provide closure to the nurse that is feeling a sense of loss after her/his patient's death.
  7. by   jnette
    I speak only for myself and my experience... I work with hemodialysis patients who come for treatments to our small clinic 3 x a week. We get to know them on a most personal level over a course of many years, and we are like "family" to the patients and their loved ones. We attend as many funerals as we have time for. I have found this to be greatly appreciated by the pt.'s loved ones and it gives us a sense of closure as well, and an opportunity to show respect and caring for the one we have cared for for an extended period of time.
    This works for us. It may not work in a LARGE clinic with a high pt. census or turnover, nor do I know how it would fare in a hospital setting, where the care is short term. I hope this is of some help. Perhaps some others out there have some insight into how it would work in other care situations.

    Jnette
    Soon 2b RN
  8. by   mintyRN
    I also have attended several funerals of patients. I worked in dialysis at the time and I spent many hours with these patients a week. It was impossible not to get attached to them. The most memorable was a pt in her twenties. I cried like a baby with her family. From the families perspective it means alot. I lost my mom when I was 18. I remember being so touched by the nurses that came to her service.
  9. by   Rustyhammer
    I also have attended many funerals of my pts.
    I don't dress in my scrubs.
    If the family was also involved in their care then they knew who I was and would often go aout of their way to introduce me to others.
    I think it's a great way to show you care and a personal way to show your last respects.
    -Russell
  10. by   JailRN
    I worked in an AIDS unit for about 3 years and would attend most of the funerals. We cared for these folks for weeks at a time and many were repeat pts. I think it gives me a sense of closure as well as lets me see the pt as someone who was at one tima vibrant. We were there for the deaths of many and now we see the life. Many of the nurses were involved with the pt as they planned their memorial service. Some of these were producers and other entertainment professionals and would go to great lengths with videos, photos, music etc. many of them had videos mand and distributed to their guests after the service.

    But after while, it seemed like I was going to more funerals than doing anything else, (that's about the time I got burned out on AIDS nursing.) It took a toll on me and I finally had to say 'enough.'

    The family definately appreciated it because some of the pts had no friends by the time they died. Some had no family as they had beed disowned when they 'came out of the closet'. Too bad.
  11. by   hoolahan
    I have attended many funeral also. The family always appreciates the gesture, and helps them to realize the nurses really bond and care for their loved ones.
  12. by   stressedlpn
    I attend funerals for those pts that I can, I wear my whites, the family allows appr. it. it also helps me deal with their deaths
  13. by   cbs3143
    I didn't normally attend patient funerals while at the bedside, but I did attend the funeral of a WW II veteran that I had cared for. He had been a member of my national guard battalion when it was activated for the North Africa, Sicily, and Italian campaigns. He even had a tatoo of the regimental crest on his left deltoid area. That was how I first realized how much he valued his association with the military.

    I attended his funeral in dress greens and carried the regimental colors under which he had served during the war. His family was very appreciative of my attendance and told me that his room was full of memorabelia from his war years. I didn't attend in a nurse role so much as a representative from his regiment, but his family remembered me from my care in the ER as well and appreciated that too.

    If you have an attachment to a patient that you've cared for, you should attend their funeral if you want to. Familys do appreciate that someone cared for them and their loved one spiritually as well as physically.

    Chuck
  14. by   Genista
    I agree there is nothing wrong with showing respect for the deceased. In fact, many families have invited nurses at my work to attend memorials and funerals of their loved ones.

    Before I was a nurse, I attended a memorial for my friend's mom, who died young (in her 40s) from cancer. My friend's mom's hospice nurse attended the memorial. During the service, there was a time for sharing memories by family & friends. The hospice RN identified herself & said a few thoughtful comments about the love of the family & the special qualities of the woman (my friend's mom) whom she only briefly got to know.It was very touching & I think the family appreciated the nurse's presence. I think when you attend a memorial or funeral, it reflects on how special that deceased person was. They touched peoples lives, and your presence supports that.

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