How would seeing a dead patient affect you personally? - page 5

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   Curious1alwys
    Quote from nurse2be09
    I am starting a nursing program 01/17/07 and wonder how I can deal seeing a patient die. I remember watching my Great-Granny die a miserable death after losing her battle with cancer. I remember her holding my hand and squeezing it after taking her last breath. That really ate me up inside. Remember seeing how the medics came and took her body out of the house and my Granny was a mess. Then my beloved Granny died of cancer as well. I remember visiting her in the hospital and then getting a call she had passed away. I am still heartbroken over that. My 5 month old niece died 01/01/04 and this by far has been the worst funeral I have ever attended. I am doing a lot of soul searching trying to prepare myself for how I will handle death once I become a nurse.

    Now, in my younger days when I was out partying and things, I witnessed a man getting shot in the head in his convertible. He was left for dead because by the time the medics got there, he was already gone and had to wait for the Medical Examiner. I'll never forgot how he was walking and talking just an hour before and then slumped over dead with his brains hanging out an hour later. I didnt know this man, but I remember going home thinking about how his family must feel.
    Try being in your oncology clinicals during the exact time your father is dying! Now THAT was difficult.

    You know what I have found? That from that experience with my father I have become so much more compassionate and empathetic, and not just to cancer victims. It is very hard for me sometimes, when I smell an odor in the hospital that reminds me of those last weeks with my father or when I see other people suffering in the same way but I have grown thru the experience. Now I wonder how I will make my mark, how I will make things just a bit easier for these people, will I be able to show them that someone really cares? Since my fathers death, I have really started wondering if I will ever have time to make that difference as a nurse. That troubles me.

    Losing someone you love changes you forever. Watching someone you love die a painful death changes you forever. Somehow, all the little things just seem stupid now. You look for the bigger meaning in life. You think about all the things you thought were important and realize how dumb they are. You can never explain it to someone who hasn't experienced it.

    I am reading a book called "Final Gifts". It is about what dying patients have to offer you as a healthcare provider, how they can help you! You should read it, it is very good. I also want to read "Moving toward Omega" which is about near-death experiences. I find this fascinating! Hard to read for pleasure though once you are in school, lol....Maybe in May lol. I am seriously considering becoming a hospice nurse now, after a years experience of course..

    Good Luck to you. You have had many losses, seen the devastation of death. Just like you did before, you will find you will deal with what you see. You have to! It won't break you. Your experience will actually make you stronger and a better nurse!!
  2. by   Blupaisley
    This is my first post here, but when I saw this thread I knew I needed to post. 5 years ago, my husband and I lost our second daughter when she was 4 weeks old. She was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. We were made aware of her condition 16 weeks into the pregnancy so we had done alot of research and new her chances were not good. I moved to Cinci Ohio to be closer to the Children's hospital there for her birth. Her life was short and very painful, but my experience with the nurses there was incredible. These people were truly angels. My first week there, I kept thinking, How can these people deal with this sort of tragedy everyday, I can't imagine doing this sort of work all the time, however, into the third week, my thoughts changed to ,How great it must be to have this sort of job, to affect people's lives everyday! The nurses were wonderful, and cried with me as she left the world in my arms. I vowed that her life would not be for nothing, that this was meant to happen for a reason, that my life had changed but that I had the decision as to HOW, good or bad. I decided that this would be my calling. I enrolled in school 2 years later.
    My only concern is that in the future, I may treat another child that is in the throes of death, and I won't be able to handle it. That I won't be able to be there for the parents in the same manner that these nurses were there for me. But for me, death has touched my life in the most intimate of ways. I think that this gives me a certain perspective that could be useful to future patients and family members.
    I would also like to say that I have found this site to be such an inspiration for me in my pursuit of my degree, and I have found so much support for those of us just starting out. To all of you,..thank you
  3. by   burn out
    Each death is just as unique as every birth. Death can be a beautiful experience such as when my father passed away..me and my sister sitting on each side of him holding his hands I had just given him a wet sponge to suck on the a bell started tolling (on a commercial on t.v. I hadn't even realized was on) My dad started breathing when the bell tolled and on the last ring he took his last breath. Other experiences are not so beautiful such as my mothers death three months ago. I had just gotten to her apartment and she was telling me how badly her chest and back were hurting her and she was so sick to her stomach before I could call 911 she collapsed in suden cardiac arrest. I was alone and tried cpr and calling for help, I remember trying to pull the secretions out of the back of her throat with my hands..it seemed forever before the paramedics got there and I was soo tired of doing CPR but I couldn't stop. The paramedics never could get an airway in and I knew when they took her out of her apartment that she was gone. Death is death we just have to deal with it the best way we can, some days are better than others.
  4. by   TXNurse52
    I think it depends on the situation. Working in the NICU, I have seen babies rushed into emergency surgery, crash during surgery, then coded long enough to keep them alive until the parents arrived (not very long). It's hard seeing all of that because after all, it is an innocent baby who was too small to even try to fight back. In that case, the hardest part was actually wrapping the baby in a blanket and handing him over to the crying mom so she could hold him for the first and last time. The only comfort with a dying preemie is knowing that we all did everything we could.

    Working in the ER provides a little different perspective. You have family and friends who really knew the patients and had spent time with them... laughing, crying, whatever experiences they had.

    For me, I always look at it from the perspective of the family. I always wonder what the family will go through.. Losing a preemie or losing an adult child can cause the same emotions and feelings in anyone.. It doesn't matter if you had a chance to get to know them or not. I think the main difference is in the future. In a child, you don't know what the future holds.. every parent has plans and dreams and hopes for their child, while the child is innocent and ready to be molded and shaped into a big person. An adult has made plans with other people and usually has some sort of shared dreams/goals with friends, family, etc. One is not more important or more painful than the other, they are just different. So it's always been hard to watch the families greive.. It's not so much the dead patient lying before me, but the family members who have to go on with their lives without that patient.
  5. by   newbeginnings07
    Daytonite,
    Just as mystiqx,I also lost my grandmother 4+ years ago and still have a very hard time dealing with it from now and then.My grandparents raised me from 3 months old,my grandma was my world,my mother.When I was 12 she starting going downhill and I helped take care of her for 8 years until she passed.She needed care 24/7 and my grandpa and I couldn't handle it ourselves so she went to a nursing home for 2 months before she passed.I stayed with her around the clock only leaving once a week, just long enough to take a shower and gain some slight relief.Point being,death is an unevitable process of life that we all must face someday that you can never quite get used to.So keep your head up,maintain your strength and know that God is ALWAYS with you to see you through.
  6. by   AliRae
    Quote from S.T.A.C.E.Y
    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.
    When I was in Zambia, a baby I was going to deliver (on my birthday!) died. We had no fuel for the generator, so we couldn't turn on the lights or suction or anything to do a C/S on her. We just brought her to to labour room to deliver a stillborn baby. It hurt.

    I work PICU here in the states. The first time I took care of a patient who had drowned (near-derowning ... we were just waiting for donation) I spent the entire day in and out of the bathroom, crying my eyes out. I have a cousin whe drowned 8 years ago, and it was all just too hard for me.

    I still cry off and on, depending on the situation. Provided a nurse is still able to function and perform her tasks, there's nothing wrong with showing the family that you're affected by the tragedy that's just happened. It helps them to know that they're surrounded by people who cared for and loved their child.
  7. by   jill48
    The first time I saw a dead patient, it made me sad. I wished that I had been there when they had passed because I needed to know that they passed comforably and not in any fear. And that is what I have been doing for the last 11 years, helping people pass away in the most comforting way possible. I love it. There is no other job for me. I was meant for this. Now it doesn't make me AS sad as it used to. Good luck.
  8. by   Medwynn
    I usually got this light body feeling. Like as if my existance was dropped down a notch. But after all the hub bub with the morgue care and such. It's on to the next patient.

    Having to be in the same room as the family before their loved one passed make me feel more. (4 Pressors, Insulin Drip, w/ VENT .. interesting experience as a nurse apprentice) ...

    After being in more and more situations where a client has to be taking off support or being there during a Code in which they are pronounced. It's getting a bit easier but every life lost has affected me in a certain way.
    Last edit by Medwynn on Jan 30, '07
  9. by   carolinapooh
    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.
    Bless you both - I lost one grandma (paternal) 20 years ago and my maternal one five years ago as well, and my maternal grandpa died an unbelievable fifteen years ago this March. My paternal grandpa died about 29 years ago and I miss him in that I wish I had known him better; he sounds like such a nice man.

    My dad died two years ago in April and I don't think I'll ever get over it. I was holding his hand when he died in the ICU and the strange thing is, I wasn't uncomfortable standing in the room with him once he was gone. I knew that Daddy, as I had known him, was already gone and all that was left was his body. He'd always said that when you die, all your questions are answered, and I wondered what great secrets he was discovering.

    I don't know how my first patient will affect me. But I'm thinking if I can handle being in a room with my own father's body, right in the hospital immediately after he died, I have a good start on dealing with a patient.

    Daytonite - I had no idea you are a (two time!) cancer survivor. Here's to you...

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