How would seeing a dead patient affect you personally? - page 2

I am interested in knowing how will you feel, if a patient were to pass on you, or if you witnessned it etc. I ask because, when I did my clinicals... The patient I chose for my careplan, was fine... Read More

  1. by   TheCommuter
    I have worked at a nursing home for the past year and have had many elderly patients die on me. My workplace has many hospice and terminally ill residents who are expected to die, anyway. In addition, I have responded to codes and performed chest compressions on bodies that were as dead as a concrete slab.

    My reaction is dependent upon my relationship with the patient. If I developed a friendship with the elderly patient, I will usually miss them when they die. If I didn't really get to know the person well, then the death usually doesn't affect me.
  2. by   bluesky
    Quote from StudentNurseBean
    Our very FIRST day of med surg I clinical on the floor, a lady coded. A few of us went in to help as much as we could. Ie. Amboo bag, CPR, etc. Of course, the resident doctors were there. My instructor said we (the students) would do post mortum care. I have to say, being thrown right into the situation where one minute I'm working to save her life and the next minute I'm pulling tubes out of her, bathing her and helping put her in a body bag, it was certainly a wake up call. It made me sad and anxious at first. But then, I remembered something that someone on this website said in a similar thread that her instructor said to her about death. "I just open the window and let their spirit fly" Hearing that makes it all feel ok to me. It will always be sad when someone passes, but we all must die
    Wow... it sounds like you are in an excellent program! They never would have let me in a working code at my school. What an important (albeit sad) experience.

    I work ICU where I see quite a bit of death but not as much as you'd think. If the patient came in as a walkie talkie of course it affects you but I guess the truth is they are already so dehumanized by the time the end nears (i.e. septic bodies, gorked out and vented)that the shock is not so great. I did used to work at NIH (research only) for 8 months and got completely depressed seeing one hopeless patient after the next go, esp the young ones. I had to leave that job though the hours, pay and load were great.
  3. by   SA2BDOCTOR
    Quote from daytonite
    my very first patient who died happened when i was working as an aide in a nursing home 31 years ago. at the time i wasn't sure she had died. i kept trying to find a pulse and trying to hear a heartbeat using my stethoscope. i finally got the charge nurse who took one look at the lady and said, "oh, she's gone." i was very sad for the rest of my shift. i had come to know the lady pretty well before this happened. but, i also knew that she was probably going to die.

    this is one of those things that you have to come to grips with because you are going to come across death now and again. it happens. it's always most shocking when it happens and it isn't supposed to. the way i've come to look at it is through a belief in spiritualism. i believe that we all have a specific time we are supposed to die. our lives here are to learn spiritual lessons that we take back with us to our true spiritual homes. when i view it that way, then death is part of a bigger cycle that we all go through.

    my mother died recently in my home. i was concerned over how i was going to be able to handle this. she was in hospice. something woke me up as she was taking her final breaths. one look at her and, like the charge nurse 31 years ago, i knew she was gone. i started crying. i knew there wasn't anything i could do. i sat at her side and held her hand. it was very cold. she was very pale looking. the intellectual part of me knew that she was no longer in pain. the emotional part, however, was very sad for the loss of someone so close. death is part of life. the big mystery is that we will all face it ourselves and i think that is why we think about it so much. as for me, i sincerely hope that my life ends in my sleep with a heart attack. i've had cancer twice and been cured twice. to me, dying from cancer would be the worst. i don't know if i could tolerate the pain. then again, maybe it's something i'm supposed to find out. i hope not.
    i am really sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. i cannot begin to imagine what you had and still are going through. as for your fight with cancer, i hope it never ever returns.

    everyday you hear in the news or you hear of someone who has cancer. i cannot help but wonder, how does it come about and why is it so prevalent. like with other diseases you know for e.g. that to "possibly" avoid heart failure, you should eat right and exercise..but when it comes to cancer, we or at least i do not know what type of precaution one should take. am i making any sense with my question?
  4. by   SuesquatchRN
    I see it as merciful for many people and am generally relieved when my old ones die. They're ready.
  5. by   Scrubz
    During my time working as a CNA I think I've seen a couple of people die. One was already dead and we had to help clean her up and the other one was a code we had called (me and a fellow CNA). She was technically still alive when they resecatated her, but she died shortly after. And I've had to watch people dying... Some of them I didn't see die, but I knew it was coming, and it's harder to watch someone in the dying process than to watch them actually go (in my opinion)...

    Now if I ever experience a child die or someone much younger then yeah, that would probably get to me. But older people dying doesn't really get to me much because it's just another part of life. Now it also depends on how close you were to that person. So if an older hospice patient had come into the hospital and died all during the same shift I was working, it probably wouldn't affect me at all (aside from the afore mentioned me feeling for the families). The longer I'm around someone and the more I get to know them then the more likely it will probably make me sad when they go.

    But in the end it's all in how you personally handle it. I think I can handle better than most people.
  6. by   Epona
    Geez.. I'm a pretty emotional person, so I will probably cry a lot. That is probably not a good thing. I got teary eyed just reading some of the posts here. Oh boy. In RN school, do they talk about death and how to deal with it??? I have lost people close to me and animals... I cry, eventually move on, but still miss them. I wonder though how I would be if I lost people day in and day out...... Yikes. Do they talk about this in school??
  7. by   jov
    Quote from Epona
    In RN school, do they talk about death and how to deal with it???
    If you are in a good school, they do.
  8. by   pjgarrett1388
    My second week of Clinicals I arrived and found out that my resident from my first week had passed away. My instructor had already told everyone by the time my friend and I got there and it was really hard because I had gotten to know my resident. I did her hair and nails on that Friday and then she passed away on Sunday morning. I cried, but had to continue on with clinicals. I was glad I continued on and I was glad I had the teacher I did because she was very caring and supportive and helped us all get through it.

    PJ
  9. by   S.T.A.C.E.Y
    During clinicals for my EMT course I saw quite a few dead patients, and participated in several codes. None of them really bothered me, b/c I was very prepared in what to expect, and had no relationships formed with the patient or family. They were all old people, and it was put to me bluntly "Old people die...That's Life". The whole experience for me was very mechanical.

    However, while working at a hospital in Africa I saw NUMEROUS patients die from minor things that would have been easily treatable or preventable in the western world. A woman in labour with a live active baby that wouldn't descend, had to wait 3.5 hours for a c-section b/c the ONLY doc didn't feel like getting out of bed in the middle of the night-- C Section at 8am for a stillborn baby (cord around the neck, no repercussions for sleeping doc). 12 y/o with SEVERE sepsis from a minor laceration (2 months earlier) that would have only required $5 worth of anti-biotics. People wasting away b/c unable to eat. Macerated Stillbirths. Kids with Polio. Adolescents dying from HIV/AIDS.

    The deaths that really got to me were the ones that should never have happened....completely preventable in our modern world. These are the deaths that have stuck with me, that make me thank God everyday for the health care available to us, and the world we live in.
    Last edit by S.T.A.C.E.Y on Jan 2, '07
  10. by   SA2BDOCTOR
    Quote from Epona
    Geez.. I'm a pretty emotional person, so I will probably cry a lot. That is probably not a good thing. I got teary eyed just reading some of the posts here. Oh boy. In RN school, do they talk about death and how to deal with it??? I have lost people close to me and animals... I cry, eventually move on, but still miss them. I wonder though how I would be if I lost people day in and day out...... Yikes. Do they talk about this in school??

    I am a cry babe also. I guess we shall wait to see if they do discuss this issue in school. I doubt it tho. because this a subjective issue
  11. by   bethin
    I still remember my first death: it was a 25 year old man who died of bone cancer. He had been in and out of the hospital and we had come to know each other well. We were the same age. We both loved football. He had a wife and 2 small children. I took his vitals on his last admission and I knew in my heart he was losing the battle. I was with him when he died and it broke my heart to see such a young person with a full life die. His wife was hysterical after he died. She ran from the room and down the hall with her car keys in her hand. We all chased her, scared she would do something to herself. We couldn't catch up with her and she returned 5 mins later with her 2 kids.

    I will never forget his name, his face, his family. I will never forget the feeling that it could have been me laying there. I knew he was in miserable pain and that now he was pain free. I felt sorry for his kids who would never know their father.

    And I'll never forget my boss who told me that I wasn't right for nursing if I got emotionally involved with my patients. I have never cried at work, I wait until I get home so her comment really hurt.
  12. by   midcom
    My mother died almost 4 years ago in my arms in the very nursing home that just last fall I had my first clinical experience. I dreaded going back there even though I'm not afraid of death. I just dreaded going into her old room. As luck would have it, the first rooom I had to go into was her old one. I was strange & a bit sad but it helped that the residents in there were a couple of very nice men.

    I think as a nurse we'll all have to get used to death. It really isn't all that scary. What I dread is losing a patient or resident that I have become particularly fond of. That will bring all the old memories flooding back.
    Dixie
  13. by   bethin
    Quote from midcom
    I think as a nurse we'll all have to get used to death. It really isn't all that scary. What I dread is losing a patient or resident that I have become particularly fond of. That will bring all the old memories flooding back.
    Dixie
    When I first became an aide I was scared of death. Too many ghost and horror movies. I find death more peaceful now, not scary. I don't shrink at the thought of touching a dead body.

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