How would seeing a dead patient affect you personally? - page 3

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   JeanettePNP
    I once went to a nursing home as a volunteer to visit patients from a list I was given. I asked for the first patient on the list, and the director was called and got all serious with me and informed me that she had died that morning. Oops! They did not realize that I had never met her and had no idea who she was.
  2. by   locolorenzo22
    Working in LTC, I was not a "direct care" worker. I was the Activity director. Through my time there, I saw a few hospice/terminally ill/sudden patients, who passed while I was working there. I never seemed to be around when the passing occurred, but whenever it was close, you went in, sat down and talked over all the stuff they wanted people to remember them for. I had a special form with a few ?'s to ask, and we read that form at the memorial service we set up with hospice care.
    ("What do you want people to remember about you? What would you tell your friends/family about your death?" <--- often because family lived far away, visited rarely.)
    I worked with a lot of women, and we had one elderly gentleman who was dxd with cancer, and refused treatment. Near the end, the staff started referring to his "harem", who massaged his feet/back, and made sure he had something to do everyday.....
    It is shocking when it occurs, and in my new job, I am much more head on. Someone got up from a commode today, and all of a sudden she started complaining of sob, got clammy/cold, and we whisked her into bed and were about 15 secs from calling a code....then she started stablizing....
  3. by   midcom
    In my Fundamentals class we went on a field trip to a funeral home & the Hospice office. They wanted us to know what goes on at a funeral home so that if a patient's family ever asked we'd know. Being an older student, I have already had experience with funeral homes & making arrangements. I was surprised though to learn how few of my classmates had ever seen, much less touched, a dead person.
    Although we were not allowed to be around any of the bodies, I do think this experience was very valuable, even to me.
    Dixie
  4. by   RNinJune2007
    I have only seen one dead patient so far, and it was an interesting experience.

    The patient coded right before we got onto the floor, got to hear his daughter screaming in the hallway when she arrived (although we thought at the time that she was a rowdy patient family member... we didn't even know that a pt. had coded).

    While they were waiting for someone to come for organ donation, the nurse allowed us all (my clinical group) to go in and listen about what happened in the situation (circumstances, and what was done to attempt to revive him, etc), and allowed us to put saline in his eyes to keep his eyes moist for the organ donation coming shortly after.

    Seeing someone who was dead, with their eyes open, and feeling their FREEZING cold skin was a very different feeling... I can't really explain it. I wasn't exactly sad... I guess more reflective. I hope I don't come across too many more...
  5. by   atwtrn
    My first patient died while I was observing in the ER. He had a massive MI. His stomach was full of air and he was blue and bloated. I was sort of in shock and I cried when I got home and realized that I witnessed this man's last moments.

    Is it better to be detached?
  6. by   bluesky
    Quote from SethJ
    My first patient died while I was observing in the ER. He had a massive MI. His stomach was full of air and he was blue and bloated. I was sort of in shock and I cried when I got home and realized that I witnessed this man's last moments.

    Is it better to be detached?
    Very important question. You know we had a great pain/grief team at NIH and after one particularly bad loss, I was in the staff room crying my a*s off to the counselor. I told him I was starting to get numb and not feel anything anymore. He told me that for the sake of both the clinicians and the patients, that when you get to the point that you are numbing up to death, that's a real sign you need to leave. So I followed his advice and I'm glad I did. I didn't mention that most if not all the other nurses on that unit were far beyond what I was in the jaded numbness department. I still work regular ICU and 'soft' nurses who are obviously affected by a patient's death are often ridiculed or considered weak except in the most tragic of cases such as pregnant women or someone the unit knows. Pretty sad, eh.

    So, my answer is that it is probably safer for you emotionally to be detached, not to mention somewhat important to be solid technically while you're coding a body. Yet, you'll notice that nurse ice cube who never cries or hurts seldom shines in the empathy department.
  7. by   SA2BDOCTOR
    Quote from 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.
    Well I think your boss was wrong for saying that. Why should you have to stifle your emotions. It is all a part of EMPATHY. I think being a nurse takes on many roles, we are not limited to caregiving. But we are there to love and show concern to our patients.
  8. by   SA2BDOCTOR
    Quote from SethJ
    My first patient died while I was observing in the ER. He had a massive MI. His stomach was full of air and he was blue and bloated. I was sort of in shock and I cried when I got home and realized that I witnessed this man's last moments.

    Is it better to be detached?

    I dont think it is better to be detached. The mere fact that you have those emotions, is a manifestion of who you trully are. A person who cares......
  9. by   SA2BDOCTOR
    Quote from bluesky
    Very important question. You know we had a great pain/grief team at NIH and after one particularly bad loss, I was in the staff room crying my a*s off to the counselor. I told him I was starting to get numb and not feel anything anymore. He told me that for the sake of both the clinicians and the patients, that when you get to the point that you are numbing up to death, that's a real sign you need to leave. So I followed his advice and I'm glad I did. I didn't mention that most if not all the other nurses on that unit were far beyond what I was in the jaded numbness department. I still work regular ICU and 'soft' nurses who are obviously affected by a patient's death are often ridiculed or considered weak except in the most tragic of cases such as pregnant women or someone the unit knows. Pretty sad, eh.

    So, my answer is that it is probably safer for you emotionally to be detached, not to mention somewhat important to be solid technically while you're coding a body. Yet, you'll notice that nurse ice cube who never cries or hurts seldom shines in the empathy department.
    Okay , so how do someone become emotionally detached? Make themselves become emotionally detached? Do you say, ah this is not my family, I am just doing my job; or death is a part of life, I am not going to cry and become emotional???

    Of course one need to contain themselves to prevent the patient from dying in the event of a code. Doesnt mean you cannot be emotional about it. It does not mean that you fall to floor and start rolling around :spin:.

    As for those hardcore nurses, that is them...if they are unfeeling...they can call me a wimp if they have to. Nursing is more than a profession, it is an act of humanity!!!!!
  10. by   unapt576
    When my patients are alive I do everything in my power for them.

    I'm very much a patient advocate, and I'm very very good at picking up little subtle signs that maybe someone isn't doing well. Doctors don't scare me and I am liberal in my use of pain medication.

    However, once someone dies, that's it for me. I can do no more for that person, they are in the hands of their God.
    An emotional switch turns off, and I can go about the tasks of caring for the body and the family calmly.
    And then, I can turn my attention back to the patients on the floor who are still living and who are still in need of my services.

    Melanie
  11. by   vamedic4
    Quote from SA2BDOCTOR
    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 and jolly as could be. The next day when I returned, she was gone. I felt really really sad. And other confusing feelings of which I dont have the words to explain. I know that in the Nursing profession, I will be encountering a whole lot of that...........................

    Did you have any similar experience and how did you feel?
    Many years ago we had a patient come in to our facility on DOL two, he needed surgery pronto or he was not going to survive, as his heart defect was not compatible with life beyond a few days.

    He arrived on a Friday afternoon and we all got the story...mom and dad have "issues", one couldn't get over the death of a parent in the last year...anyway, support for this child was withdrawn. I'll never forget how I felt when I heard that.
    Our little boy lasted the weekend and died in my arms right before shift change on Monday morning. I don't think he spent more than a few necessary moments in the Ohio warmer his entire life.

    Having dealt with little ones for the past 12 plus years I can only say that it is one of the hardest things to do. "Seeing" a dead patient isn't the worst thing in the world, it's the thought of "what would they have done had they lived" that I ponder. Then I go home, cry, and hold my children until they can't stand me any longer.

    And I thank God every day for the opportunity to help others.


    Have a good day, everyone.

    vamedic4
  12. by   GeminiTwinRN
    Quote from mystiqx
    Daytonite: I am so sorry to hear of your mom's passing, god bless you and your family. Losing my granma was equivilent to if i had lost my own mother. She raised me from a baby till just before my 17th birthday when i came to the US to live with my mom and to start my college education. I never got to say goodbye to her, she passed before I could get back. I was devistated and angry but I believe in my heart that she did not want me to see her in the state she was in, that she wanted me to remember her as she was. Its been 4+ yrs and its still a very hard thing for me digest, there is still that shock and disbelief and i still cry sometimes because i miss her terribly. My grandma was my heart. So my heart goes out to you for your loss, its not an easy thing to handle.
    I can totally relate to your grief about losing your grandma. My grandma, too, was my "mother". She raised me and my brother from the time we were 11. My brother went to live with my grandparents when he was eleven, and then 3 years later, I went to live with them when I was eleven. I had spent significant portions of my childhood with them as well, before I went there permanently, and so to me, they were my parents.

    I cared for my Grandmother as the only relative who lived in the same city when she became ill. She was ill for several years before she passed away, and I received a phone call (as I did every day of our lives, MANY calls a day) from her early in the AM the morning that she died. She asked me to come to her assisted living apartment, and I told her I would be there within the hour, after dropping my son off at school. When I got there, I let myself in with my key and she was sitting up in a chair in front of the door, waiting for me to get there. She was wearing her pajamas, and didn't respond when I asked her why she was sitting at the door... she was already gone. I was heartbroken that I hadn't been able to be with her during her last moments. I still think what if? why didn't I? etc.

    To make matters worse, I had moved into her condo (at her insistence) when I started the pre-reqs for nursing school and she moved into the assisted living apartment. It proved to be a wonderful arrangement. It was her intention that I and my son would be able to live in her home until graduation, but after her death my Aunt and my mother (her daughters) forced me to move out so that the condo could be sold. It has cost me a relationship with my Aunt. We haven't spoken since the service and the final disbursements from the estate. The sale could easily have waited the two years until graduation, neither of them needed the money, but I certainly needed the home.

    I graduated December 16, 2006. How I wish my grandmother could have been there in person.. I believe she was there in spirit, but I cried that day because she wasn't there. Of course, neither was my Aunt nor my mother. My brother lives in another state, with his family, and wasn't there either.

    The only relationship that remains for me and any of my family is with my brother and his wife and my 2 wonderful nephews. I thank God for their love and hope that someday we can live closer together in order to have our children be near each other. The only person I have where I live is my son, and were it not for his father being a huge part of his life, I would have already moved to my brother's area. However, growing up in the situation that we did, I refuse to take my son away (geographically) from his father.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post.

    I'm sorry for your loss, and for yours too, Daytonite. What a blessing to have been able to be there for your mother when she passed.

    Take care and have a healthy and prosperous New Year!
  13. by   JBudd
    Depends on how well I knew them, most deaths in the ER are fairly sudden and with unknown (to us anyway) people so there isn't that much of an emotional attatchment. Kids still get to me though. Most of the time, its "this one didn't work, call organ donor and OMI". Have to be able to detach and move on, because the ER is still full of people who need to continue to be cared for. Emotional let down usually comes at home, after the shift is over.

    When I worked the floors, had one fellow, terminal, in a lot of pain, and I couldn't understand why he didn't go. I prayed hard about it, and got an answer, the few more hours of pain was worth it to be with his family.

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