Dealing With Lay Curiosity

  1. How do you deal with curiosity questions regarding the death process you receive from non-family lay persons? Some are just driven by curiosity on becoming aware of the nursing specialty while others are seeking information regarding their own fears and imminent situation.
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   aimeee
    Hmmm, I actually don't get many questions. When people find out I am a hospice nurse they usually go one of two ways...either they start gushing about how wonderful hospice is and go on to tell me about a friend/relative who was helped by hospice or they clam up after saying "wow. I could never do that."
  4. by   prmenrs
    I think a minimal, matter-of-fact answer may be the way to go. Or, "for what reason do you wish this information" is another option!
  5. by   jerseyRN
    Aimee, your post cracked me up. Those are the two reactions! And I always get this question every holiday from my brother-in-law: "How's work?" Don't worry, he changes the subject before I have to come up with an answer....
  6. by   oh_wow
    I'm a student nurse intending to go into hospice and pallative care and have been a hospice volunteer for 10 years. People's reactions have ALWAYS been the same as quoted! Either way it's apparent how strangely, really, Americans deal with death and dying, as though it were something to be hidden away and definitely not discussed. They either exlaim about how saintly hospice careworkers are (and we know we're not) or they clam up and slink away! When they ask me questions like "how can you deal with that day after day" I always reply by reminding them that "we all are scheduled for that stop on this ride - don't you want the journey to end as gently as possible?" That's about the time that they head for the open bar!
  7. by   Laurell28
    I get the same reactions about Hospice too and welcome the opportunity to educate people if they are really interested. It amazes me how much education and preparation go into a birth, but when it comes to death, little information is available and no one wants to talk about it. The ironic thing is that it is the one thing that we all have to face some day.
  8. by   jerseyRN
    Yeah, that "saintly" thing. That always makes me vaguely uncomfortable. I think, "if you only knew"....
  9. by   Kelly_the_Great
    Quote from Laurell28
    I get the same reactions about Hospice too and welcome the opportunity to educate people if they are really interested. It amazes me how much education and preparation go into a birth, but when it comes to death, little information is available and no one wants to talk about it. The ironic thing is that it is the one thing that we all have to face some day.

    How often do you all see this same lack of knowledge from nurses themselves? I'm currently in a BSN program and we got 1/2 a day lecture on death & dying, 1 outpt. Hospice clinic day & 1 inpt. I actually think I may have gotten more instruction R/T D&D in my LVN program!

    My Father passed away just last February and it's funny, Laurell, that you mentioned "birth" because for me, I thought the whole experience was very closely R/T to the birthing process. What I mean is, same concerns leading up to (will there be much pain, will I know what to do) the event. A lot of the same issues in the process, pain control & comfort measures. And then finally the birth itself - only to another place. It sounds wierd, I guess, but it was one of the most satisfying and fulfilling experiences I have ever had. Knowing that I was able to help facilitate a peaceful transition for him.

    Oh well, I know I'm rambling. I just think it's such a shame we within our own profession are often ill-prepared.
  10. by   req_read
    Yes, aimeee is right on. One of two responses can be expected... sometimes both in rather rapid succession.

    An eye disease (I am legally blind) caused me to retire from active hospice nursing but my interest in the study of dying process has never waned. I could hardly think of a more fascinating subject. It combines the study of medicine, psychology, parapsychology, sociology, family systems theory, spirituality, consciousness and quantum physics. I spend a lot of time thinking about and writing on the subject, but as aimeee noted, when I attempt to discuss it with others I generally get one of the responses she described.

    Every once in a great while I run into someone who 'gets it' and is truly fascinated, but that is far more of an exception than the rule. For the most part I have found that J. Doe works very hard at avoiding all thought of dying process as completely as they know how... until they are forced to face it directly... and then they want all of the 'answers' immediately.
  11. by   sue hospice
    I've been in hospice for 3 years but have dealt with end of life issues for 15 years,, I usually get the how can you do that questions, and sometimes, what really happens questions... But for the most part, people think you have to be a special person to work with the hospice folks,,Sometimes after a really difficult case and the families repeatedly tell you thank you and how wonderful you are at helping them through the death,, I have to laugh when I go home with a big head .realizing what a great experience I've just witnessed,,, and expecting my family to bow or salute me, only to find a sink full of dishes,,,, dirty laundry and a hungry family....kinda puts my world back into place real fast... Sue from New York

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