How would seeing a dead patient affect you personally?

  1. 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?
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  2. 60 Comments

  3. by   fishchick72
    I've worked as an LVN for 6 years now & I've lost many patients over the years. It always affects me to a certain degree when it was a patient I've cared for personally. I thought after a while I would get over it & get more used to it, but I haven't. I think it must be a normal reaction though.
  4. by   NeosynephRN
    If you did not care at all...then I would say that you may not be in the right field!! As an EMT and now a nursing student I have lost a number of patients...some losses definately hit harder than others, that is natural! It is something that you will become acustomed to....losing patients...but not something that you will ever really get "used" too! I hope this makes sense!
  5. by   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.
  6. by   chysyl
    i've been a nursing student for 2years plus and i've watched some of my patients die. there's always that feeling of saddness even if its not for the dead but for those who will have to carry on.
    sometimes too i cant just define my feelings esp in patients with terminal illness who sometimes i wonder why they are still living but it dosent stop me from hoping for a miraculous change and when it does come it either gets better......which what i'd really like......or it gets worse......or the patient dies...in this case i'm neither happy nor sad but i feel it's better for everyone concerned.
    i dont think i'm ever going to get used to patients dying but i've gotten used to doing last office.
  7. by   Lovely_RN
    I had my first experience with death as a CNA. It was my first time on that particular floor and I was doing AM vitals. The nurses were still giving report so no one told me that there was a person dying. She was a terminal breast cancer patient and had been actively dying all night. I kept trying to check her pulse and I couldn't get a BP reading on her. I called for the nurse and when she came she started to stroke her hair, held her hand,and told her that it was O.K to let go. I was stunned and felt sad for the rest of my shift. What was even worse was that her daughter was the ward clerk on the floor below us. The family had been on the way to the hospital because they knew she was going but they got there too late.
  8. by   alexillytom
    During my first semester clinical experience, my patient died. Not to sound morbid but it was a wonderful learning experience. His passing provided me with the opportunity to perform the skills I had previously learned in lecture and lab. After comforting his wife and daughter, I helped perform post mortem care. His family was very complimentary about the care I was able to provide. In reality, this older gentleman was suffering. I was relieved that he was free from his pain. I spent the majority of the time caring for his wife because she was having a really difficult time.
  9. by   WickedRedRN
    I had 2 pts pass while I was in clinicals, one was on hospice in LTC and it was expected. He had ca with mets and was tired and ready. I had taken care of him several times, but the day he passed he was not my assignment. We heard he had passed and my instructor sent me to help prepare him. In hindsight, I think that was a positive experience, although at the time I was pretty shaky about doing it. I realized in doing this I could help his family and that he was no longer suffering as he had been. Yes, it was sad, and I cried afterward with my instructor. She taught me that day that it was okay to "feel it" and encouraged me to let it go. She said in all her years she always felt something when a res/pt passed and would be concerned if I did not.

    I hope your CI is able to spend a bit of time with you. Their insight is invaluable.

    HUGS to you.....
  10. by   shippoRN
    I am not a nurse yet, not even apcepted to my program as yet, but i work pretty closely with cancer patients and get to know them. Unfortunately my population are those who have failed conventional chemo in the high stages of cancer and are now trying research alternatives. That being said, i have lost several patients that i have grown attach too, seen their husbands/wives/babies etc. I have been through it for 3 yrs and now i am to that point where i am simply numb. I also lost my grandmother who raised me, to cancer and I lost a close cousin (my age) who drowned.

    The one patient that impacted me the most was one of my favorates who was so feisty and spirited. The day she found out she had cancer was the first day i met her. She cried at my desk, this was when i was just beginning and i was a receptionist so to speak, before i moved into the clinical setting to work with the nurses i do now. She cried her heart out at my desk with her husband and daughter there. The next week she had to come for her first chemo, she had shaved all her hair off and was ready to go at it like a warrior and we were attached to each other since then. The week that she lost her fight, her MD's assistant called me from my unit (at this time i had transitioned into the research unit,) and she pretty much told me to come down and say goodbye because the MD did not give her to the weekend to live. She was a shell of herself when I saw her, it was almost like she had given up and i know she didn't she fought to the bitter end. Even when she went in for surgery for brain mets, i went to visit her on my lunch break and she was still as feisty as ever. The last day i saw her, I hugged her, kissed her and told her that everything would be ok and i never saw her again. From that day on i was numb to death.

    I know to say i am numb sounds harsh but its the truth, i know i feel something for a moment, i just dont know what and then i am numb to it. Im to the point where i am programmed to see it coming and just say god bless so and so, and move on. Sometimes i think something is seriously wrong with me because the only way i can discribe it is numbness.

    The one thing i can say that no matter what has happened in my experience it has not stopped me from getting attached to my patients, its just something i do and i can't help it.
    Last edit by shippoRN on Jan 2, '07
  11. by   shippoRN
    Quote from daytonite
    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.

    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.
  12. by   CityKat
    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
  13. by   purplemania
    I believe that each nurse has to address this topic in relation to his/her own belief system. We bond with our patients, even if we only know them a matter of hours. Any loss is a loss to the nurse, but death is part of life and we each have to accept the inevitable. That does not mean we cannot mourn. I believe we all mourn for our losses.
  14. by   CHATSDALE
    had many of patients dies during 26 years of nursing and some really stick out in my memory
    one was a man in ltc, loud with an marelous sense of humor, had some unlying health problems but was walking and talking, cna went to hime when he didn't come in to supper and he was lying in bed no v/s he could have been there for quite a while because if they are not sick they are not distrubed if they might be taking a little nap

    the other occured when i was told in report that the wheelchair bound pt had excoriated area -- i walked down and he was sitting in w/c with cookies and milk in hand...he said he would go to bed when he had finished his mid-afternoon snack...about 30 min later i sent and he was still seated in w/c with milk in hand...i could tell at once he was gone...sad..he was only about 40

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