Dealing with Death and Dying

  1. I recently witnessed the death of a patient. I held her hand when she passed away. I don't really know how to deal with it and I was looking for some suggestions.
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   Jenny P
    Georgine, you were with her when she died, and you held her hand. Death is part of life; no escapes it. Our modern medicine can't "cure" death, it is inevitable. If you have any spiritual beliefs, this is when you need to use those beliefs. Our society does not let us think of death as being a natural process, so the first time we have to deal with death, many times we feel like failures-- that we didn't do enough. But you were there when she died, and she didn't have to die alone. That would bother me- to have someone die alone. You held her hand; she knew that she wasn't alone, you were with her. As nurses, we comfort our patients; and you did this. Remember that: you provided her the comfort of another persons touch.
  4. by   hollykate
    Hi Georgine,
    as a technician in the ED and now as an ICU nurse, I see death and dying on a regular basis. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it. It is difficult. Two things that have helped me: one: is talking about it with other people who have been through the same thing (ie other nurses), and also talking with the family. I usually like to let family know I was with their loved one. If I had a chance to actually talk to the pt before their death, I will let the family know what we talked about. I recently admitted a lady -very concious and alert- only to have her die 3 days later. Her son came and sat beside her at the bedside, he knew she was dying. I stayed with him and told him what she had told me about her family, and how much she loved them (all of which was true). Later he called the unit and wanted to let us know how that made things easier. It's not always a good idea, but perhaps you can send a card to the family to let them know you were with this lady, and if she wasn't in pain, let them know she wasn't in pain. I don't know why they weren't there, but lots of things can prevent family from being at the bedside. I'm sure they would be relieved to knwo she did not die alone, and that someone caring was at her side.
    Watching patients die is really part of nursing. nd like Jenny P. Said, you didn't fail at anything. You actually succeded in providing comfort and care at a critical time in someone's life! Good Luck in school, email me if you need to talk about this more.
  5. by   Tina Harrington
    Georgine.......
    Sounds as if your patient died with Dignity,and you should think of this as good nursing care. As nurses this is the last one quality we can deliver to our patients, nobody "likes" to see patients die but unfortunately we do, pat yourself on your back and take comfort from knowing you helped and gave your patient all you had to offer to the end. Good Luck in your Nursing, Stay positive and you will get through it :-)

  6. by   cheri2
    I say bravo to you! It is a shame whenever someone has to die alone. It is not easy to watch a patient die but it comforts the family to know they were not alone. I lost my dad recently and the nurses were fabulous. When my mother and I needed to bit to eat, they would sit with him until we came back. We were fortunate enough to be with him when he passed only because a great nurse informed us it would be soon. So...we stayed the night and he passed the first of the morning. I used to be afraid of the death part of nursing so much it prevented me from persuing my dreams. After my dad died...I realized that it can be a spiritual experience. I am sure you patient was grateful for your generosity to sit with her and hold her hand in her darkest hour. I think that is what nursing is all about.

    I agree, pat yourself on your back and realize you made a difference even it your patient is no longer here.
  7. by   janleb
    I have never personally witness a pt death. But a fellow nursing student called me a few weeks ago and told me of her experience with a pt who was in the ED with cardiac failure and died. She didn't know how to react to this, it was bothering her. What i told her was I would be worried if it didn't bother her. Nurses are human and have feelings.

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