The most heartbreaking thing ive ever had to do :(

  1. Ok, so I kinda need to get this off my chest, since the people who would understand it the most, are you guys. So last week, I had this patient who was 45 years old, and had cancer. She had a hx of ovarian CA, and came into the hospital with c/o abd pain. after ct scans and the whole nine yards, they thought it was an sbo. and they also though the cancer had spread all throughout. So then they were going to take her to surgery to see what they could do, and when the opened her up, they found a tumor that had covered her intestines, and stomach, they had to sew her up and take her back. By the time I had her, she was for the most part comatose, had a morphine drip, resps were labored, and the family was just waiting. This woman had a huge family, 2 young kids, and a husband. Im only 20 and her daughter had to only be maybe 3 or 4 years younger then me. The first day i had her they didnt expect her to make it through the night. then we didnt think shed make it through my shift. well she did, and 3-11 and night turn, until i had her again the next morning. Family came in and out all day, some stayed. Her sisters and kids mostly. They never called out, and never needed anyone in the room, so when they put their light on at 2:30 i knew something was wrong. Walking into that room, my heart hit my stomach :imbar . All the family, just stared at me, crying, and the poor woman was taking her last breaths. They wanted me to listen to her, and i did, knowing i wasnt going to hear anything. She didnt have an apical. and wasnt breathing anymore. But they silence.........that was the worse. they all waited, hoping that i was going to tell them, their worst had come true. Looking at her poor daugher, and her family and saying im sorry, was by far the worst thing i have ever had to do. The daughter lost it, she became hyserical, and my heart went out to her, to lose your mother at such a young age. I left the family, and walked out, and i just wanted to cry. it took all i had not to just lose it. I will never forget the scream her daugher let out. I left work that day, and i couldnt forget what happend, i still cant, and i dont think anyone except other nurses, would understand, what its like to tell a family member their loved one died. I have had one patient die before, she was 90, the family knew it was soon. Not that that justifies it, but it seems so unfair that a 45 year old with kids and husband died. I dont know, but thanks for letting me get that out, i just needed someone to listen, and to know where im coming from, so thanks
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  2. 38 Comments

  3. by   Tweety
    I know what you mean.

    You're human with human emotions. I get emotional myself when the family is emotional like that. Never gets any easier. Glad you were there for them.
  4. by   lulu88
    I lost my dad four years ago when I was 19. I just wanted to say that the nurses who did mouth to mouth CPR on him (he had just been discharged from the hospital and was at a ceremony honoring him for 35 years of being a college professor), I am eternally grateful for all they did to try to save my dad, and I still remember them today and think of them often.

    I am sorry you had to see the kids reactions, but please know that you have made such an impact in their lives for taking care of their mother, knowing that someone who truly cared was with her in the end.
  5. by   NRSKarenRN
    Glad you joined so you can vent.

    You learn so much from caring for dying patients. Each persons death is a little different. You sometimes get a chance to use that knowledge from one person to help another. A nursing presence is so important, more than words when a younger person dies. Just saying " I don't know what to say, I'm here for you" holding hands, letting family talk/cry/wail..proving shoulder to cry on and sometimes sheading your own tears can be helpful to the family. I always ask is there anyone else you want me to call? Provide juice, water, hot beverage after everyone calmer.

    When I get a chance to leave the room, if I've been really close to family will ball my eyes out in bathroom/breakroom. Just having someone pat me on the shoulder or arm showing the care and support me helps. Some deaths just get to you, even after 30 years.

    Sending {{{{{HUGS from PA}}}}}. They will remember you always. Thanks for being there.
  6. by   barefootlady
    You are a caring and brave nurse. One who will touch many lives and be a positive asset to the nursing community wherever you work. Death is never easy in circumstances like you described. I hope you know that your presence did make a difference to this family. May many angels continue to surround you as you work to give comfort and aid to those in need.
  7. by   barb4575
    ...in nearly 22 years, I have cried many times over and I have never regretted it once. Being 45 and the same age as your patient, this hit me close. I have days where I think I will die young, as my father died of a massive MI at 43 and then other days, where I ask God to allow me to live as I have much to do here.

    I remember being a new graduate nurse and having a patient in her thirties who had an allergic reaction to IV Penicillin and died. She had a husband and two children and large family as well....regardless, she was so young and her death was so unexpected. When I look back over the years, I do believe that there was a reason that I was present when these individuals died. I would say the same to you, it was meant for you to be there to help the family grieve. Learn from it and be thankful that you were chosen to be with them. It is so refreshing to read a young nurse's account of life's work and compassion.

    Barbara
  8. by   sixes
    Remember it's ok to cry
    I know work in LTC and losing someone never gets easier
    The worst for me was when I lost 2 very wonderful people in a two week time frame
    I was doing home care then
    the first was a 45 year old man wiht CA to the esophagus. I had spent every night at his side for 5 weeks.
    The next was a beautiful 13 year old who had eving's sarcoma. I had been her primary care giver for 6 months. My son was the same age and they went to school together. We had many good times and made it through some very rough ones
    Just days before they were told by the speaclist that the tumor was gone, he failed to mention the spread to her brain
    I was so devastated that I had to leave nursing for awhile
    Her Mom and I are still best friends and if it wasn't for her I would not have returned to nursing
    She instilled in me that I can't save the world and I can't always stop the pain but that I can be there to make their lives as full as possible and assist them to the end with all the love and compassion and dignity that GOD instilled in my heart
    The families will always remember the kindness that their loved one recieved
    Remember to always be kind, caring and compassionate in every thing you do
  9. by   Noney
    ((((Vennie))))))


    You know one of the characters of being a good nurse is caring. I'd say you pass that test. Sounds like it was a draining case and the family was lucky to have you though it.


    Noney
  10. by   traumaRUs
    Thanks on behalf of that family for being there. You are a wonderful and caring nurse, not to mention a great person too. Take care...its okay to cry!
  11. by   NurseRatchet26
    The first time I saw a person die was in a long term care facility. He had lung cancer and it was no surprise that his time had come, still I cried like he was a member of my family. I still, to this day can't explain my reaction. Sadness for another human beings suffering? Relief that his suffering was over? I can't really say.

    I think you showed remarkable poise and compasion. It sounds like you are definately in the right profession. Remember, its normal to cry and to feel grief over your patients. Its when you stop feeling that compassion and become jaded that you should perhaps consider another job.
  12. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Well, when you QUIT feeling emotions like this in situations like hers, I would worry. The posters before me are right; you never "get over it" and it never gets easier...but you do learn to cope more and more effectively,if you work at it.

    May I suggest, if you have not already, you really, really get in touch with your feelings about death and dying? In the USA, it's NOT a comfortable subject. Lots of good books out there....and you can always really work on your spiritual side as well. NOTE I did NOT say religion---but spirituality, opening up a whole world of experiences you can learn of and read about. Religion definately has a place in many lives, but true spirituality brings a lot of new and different experiences to my life that religion alone didnot.

    So many people of the world have a healthy and somewhat comforting attitude and viewpoints about dying; it may help you. I know it has me; I have done a LOT of spiritual work since entering nursing. Sooner or later, all of us come face to face with death where the situation is FAR from natural or comforting. It's a real challenge to us all, especially those of us in nursing and medicine.

    Working on MY concept of death and dying and the spirituality of it has helped me immeasurably. I hope you keep coming here to vent or seek support. That is the beauty of boards like this........we are here to help!
  13. by   CoffeeRTC
    Hardest thing I had to do... New nurse in LTC 11-7 Shift , had to call a family and tell them dad died... he had just been admitted a day earlier S/P CVA and was recovering.. just needed some therapy and was to return home. This was my first death, first call to family and it was Christmas Eve a few days before his birthday. All I could do was cry with his family... I don't know if I was hugging them or they were hugging me. Death never gets easier, but for me I understand it more when the elderly die...cant do peds nursing..
  14. by   Chaya
    So sorry you had to go through that so soon, Vennie. I've been on both sides of this; as a family member and as the nurse. As a family member, I can say thanks for just being there because that's what counts. As a fellow nurse I'm saying I'd be proud to work beside you; sounds like you didn't flinch. It's true what they say that if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger. This probably is about the toughest thing you'll ever have to do and you came through it. Give yourself the pat on the back you deserve, let the pain go but keep the compassion with you for the future. You rock!

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