Life, Death, and the Nurse In Between - page 2

He was an elderly patient, unresponsive and on comfort measures only, when I met him at 8:00am that morning. The staff had guessed based on his current state that he would pass away that evening, or... Read More

  1. by   Etone LPN

    ER nurse here for 24 years ... Beautiful post as I see that you have the heart for your profession. Your clinical instructor was totally correct and your emotional response to this is quite normal. Without feelings or emotions we should not be in this profession. I am with you as I agree that the hard part is when the family arrives and the tears flow ... and, yes ... It is ok and appropriate to give a hug and share tears.

    Again ... Much appreciation for your contribution to this forum and wish you the best.

  2. by   Bonnie Morris
    This brought tears to my eyes, nicely written and kudos to your instructor for her comments! As a 25+year RN I can't even remember my first experience with death, can't count how many I've been involved with, it always touches you in some way. Keep moving forward and enjoy your chosen career!
  3. by   Alliesangel
    I just went through this a few days ago. Although I have been a nurse for 12 years and before that a CNA in a nursing home for 5 yrs, I have been with many patient's and their families as their loved one took their last breath of this life. This lovely man made the choice to end his suffering along with the recommendation of the Cardiologist. He had severe Pulmonary Edema and Decompensated CHF. He lived on his pacemaker and a Dobutamine drip. He was tired, in chronic pain and just didn't want to suffer anymore. His entire body was swollen... He had no quality of life. He made the decision to have his pacemaker shut off as well as his Dobutamine drip. He wanted to go home to die, but his wife was NOT ready for this. She said no, she could not handle it. He understood and hoped in time that she would understand his decision as well. I told him it was the kindest thing he could have done for himself and his family and that we would be there with him through his transition and make him comfortable. The night before he was to have his pacemaker shut off, we took turns spending time with him, reminiscing about his life and the things he had accomplished. (He was a Corporate pilot for the Government as well as an Instructor) His family was not there through this. They said their goodbye's the next day before they shut off the pacemaker and the drip. He was so grateful to us for spending time with him. The next day before I left, (I work the nightshift) I hugged him and told him I would be back that night and would take care of him. They came to shut his pacemaker off at 11AM. I couldn't sleep well that day. I called into work at about 6PM to ask how he was doing and at that time he was hanging in there. When I got to work, he was no longer responsive, I sat next to him, held his hand, gently rubbed his head, Put on the Christian channel with Gospel music, as he was a Christian. I prayed for him and talked to him. He was on a Morphine drip and had been given some Ativan. Throughout the night his breathing became agonal, his heart rate slowly became brady until @0310 he went Asystole. Although my heart broke and along with several other co-workers, cried our eyes out, I was blessed to have been there with this lovely man.
    God has given us nurses this beautiful and wonderful gift to be able to hold the hand of a stranger and see them through the transition of death, to hug a stranger and their families when they are in pain, to show compassion beyond measure. Although this man and his family were no strangers to us, because we had been caring for him through multiple admissions for weeks at a time, He did not die alone. I am grateful to have been given this gift and still, although a very sad job at times, love being a nurse. God Bless all of us nurses for we do a job that not many can handle.
  4. by   WanderLust07
    I had something similar happen to me the other night. I called the pt. wife when I saw his condition (apenic, brady, hypotensive and ashen) and bawled when I got off the phone. My heart broke for that sweet woman. I allowed that lovely woman and her daughter to stay the night in cots at his bedside. It turned out to be his very last night. I always feel blessed to look after people and their families at end of life.
  5. by   MaggieMae412
    That is such an incredibly powerful story and experience. Thank you so much for sharing. You sound like a very strong and compassionate person, and that you are definitely in the right place as a nurse.
  6. by   MaggieMae412
    There are some incredibly powerful stories and experiences in these comments. Thank you all so much for sharing. You all sound like very strong and compassionate people, and are definitely in the right field as nurses.
  7. by   acedit
    Well done! Thank you for sharing!
  8. by   GitanoRN
    Thank you for sharing... Aloha~
  9. by   pj__
    Hi, I usually browse this site to look for answers to my questions, but your post has inspired me to sign up and become a member. I want to thank you for sharing this story because this is one of my fears. As a new graduate nurse and also a recent hire in a Long term care facility I know that these situations will eventually happen to me, and I fear it because I am a person who likes to look at things through others perspective and I dread the pain and sadness that I will feel when I do encounter such a situation.

    Again Thank you so much and also to the other nurses who have posted advice in this thread because me reading them has also helped me as well.
  10. by   aking0716
    This is so beautifully written. I am currently an LPN student but have worked for the past 6 years as a CNA in various nursing homes. And although I have lost countless patients, I still get emotional for each one's passing. Just this week, I lost a woman that I have provided care to for the past 2 years and it was heartbreaking. And your instructors comment about when it doesn't affect you it's time to look for a new job is so true. I have been ridiculed and scolded for my emotional responses and it's by staff who should've left this job long ago. In my experience, the families appreciate seeing staff that have been moved by their loved one's passing. It lets them know that they were truly loved and well cared for.
  11. by   aking0716
    I think what you did for that man is incredible. I work as a CNA at the moment but am now an LPN student. I always make the time to sit with a patient that is at the end of life and hold their hand and talk to them. Many of my co-workers think I'm crazy and wasting my time, but honestly I feel better when I know that they aren't spending their last few moments alone. I would hope that someone would take the time for me and sit with me if I were in that bed.
  12. by   bluegrace
    Thank you so much for posting this. You have no idea how much this just comforted me. I am a pre-nursing student volunteering at the emergency department at a local hospital. It is the only Level I Trauma Center in my state, so I knew when I was assigned there that I would be in for some crazy things. This morning, I overheard some of the patient care techs say that a patient was coding. I may not be a nurse, but I definitely know what that means. The patient had been brought in by ambulance for shortness of breath, but went into cardiac arrest as soon as they went into their room. I've never seen a code before, so when I walked near the patient's pod later on, I couldn't help but take a peek to see what was going on. The moment I entered the pod, I saw a massive group of people crowded around the patient's room; they had started doing frantic compressions. I walked out of the pod dazed, and I felt sick to my stomach. The rest of my shift, I was petrified that I would hear that they pronounced the patient (they didn't, they managed to stabilize them to start assessing). Seeing the patient's family didn't help at all; when they came in, they had no idea the patient had coded. They had no idea that their loved was one on the verge of death, but I did, and I had to fake it so that they didn't freak out in the waiting room. I felt even worse when I saw that in the midst of this, the nurses and doctors around me acted completely unemotional; some were even happy as if nothing was wrong. The emotional disconnect in some of the people terrified me. When I left the ER this morning, I thought that I was going to have to give up my heart and soul or something in order to work as a nurse. This article and the comments have made me feel so much better. I don't know quite how I will handle my patients' deaths, but I know that I am not alone in my struggles. The nurses and doctors do feel sad and aren't emotionless robots like I feared. And I shouldn't feel so sad, but more honored that I will be able to help people in their darkest hour, just like I always wanted. Thank you so much.
  13. by   picklemouse
    Thank you so much for posting this. My "first time" was last week. I have had better days.