Grief. Mine!

  1. I am such a old hospice war horse but I had a very traumatic death a few months back and I haven't really recovered from it. Yes, still seeing a counselor. Long story..can't get into details because will probably go to the courts. Error was not committed by hospice team. SW says I may be now experiencing "serial grief". Has anyone heard of that? I am too old and too good of a hospice nurse to go mental now. Any thoughts?
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   leslie :-D
    i don't know what serial grief is: but if i had to venture a guess, it sounds as if this death prompted a chain reaction to all the other deaths you've encountered.
    in other words, i think we as hospice nurses, have built-in coping/defense mechanisms in relation to all the death we deal with.
    it's not feasible to grieve ea and every death and so, on some unconscious level, we repress what would normally be a traumatic response, and tune out so we can keep on going.
    it sounds as if your difficulty in overcoming this particular death, may be r/t the stress that goes with hospice nursing.
    i know we aim for peace deaths, acceptance and closure of the dying and their family members.
    but often, this just is not the case and no matter how much we've tried, too many deaths are not the peaceful visions of quiet transition.
    it takes its' toll.
    the more you give of yourself, the more it takes from you.
    no matter how well one thinks they're coping, a relatively benign incident can set one off in endless tears and harrowing frustration.
    perhaps you are grieving cases you never though affected you?
    again, never heard of serial grief but whatever it is, take the time for you to replenish and rejuvenate.
    i hope the counselling is helping you with your losses.

    leslie
  4. by   jessica
    I'm so sorry that you are experiencing this. You obviously give your heart and soul to your patiets and I'm sure that you did everything that you could for that particular patient. I will keep you in my heart and send warm wishes with you as you work through this.


    Jessica---fellow hospice war horse
  5. by   FranEMTnurse
    Quote from earle58
    i don't know what serial grief is: but if i had to venture a guess, it sounds as if this death prompted a chain reaction to all the other deaths you've encountered.
    in other words, i think we as hospice nurses, have built-in coping/defense mechanisms in relation to all the death we deal with.
    it's not feasible to grieve ea and every death and so, on some unconscious level, we repress what would normally be a traumatic response, and tune out so we can keep on going.
    it sounds as if your difficulty in overcoming this particular death, may be r/t the stress that goes with hospice nursing.
    i know we aim for peace deaths, acceptance and closure of the dying and their family members.
    but often, this just is not the case and no matter how much we've tried, too many deaths are not the peaceful visions of quiet transition.
    it takes its' toll.
    the more you give of yourself, the more it takes from you.
    no matter how well one thinks they're coping, a relatively benign incident can set one off in endless tears and harrowing frustration.
    perhaps you are grieving cases you never though affected you?
    again, never heard of serial grief but whatever it is, take the time for you to replenish and rejuvenate.
    i hope the counselling is helping you with your losses.

    leslie
    Very professional response, Leslie.
  6. by   Witiku
    For a public forum and generally, the details aren't as important as your reaction to the events. Sorry you are having coping problems. Good that you are getting help.

    Sounds like you're carrying around some weight that is not yours to carry, as the error was not in your control.

    Best to you.
  7. by   finn11707
    I know what you are talking about. The pace of our work can sometimes interfere with our ability to process the deaths. It is so important to honor the work we do. Here are some self evaluation points I keep track of: Do I have enough support in my personal life...am I remembering to attend to my "personal "goodbye" ceremonies...and am I taking enough time for sharing (conferences, etc) with others who do this work...

    I love Hospice work but have had to learn to say goodbye as time draws near to release me---I hold personal "ceremonies" with patients/families who I am perhaps closer to by sharing a poem or two from either Mary Oliver or Roger Housden "Risking Everything"---and at that time I state what an honor it has been for me to know them and share this poignant journey. It works for me. Good luck---you sound committed to your work. Take time to heal.:redpinkhe
  8. by   shrinky
    I too am an old war horse and I agree with the responses. We seem to go from a death to another new patient and supress any feelings that we have only to have them rear their ugly heads at another time. Children have been especially difficult for me and thank God that i have not had too many. Perhaps a small ceremony will help you, if you can with the family or maybe a close peer. Please let us know how you are doing, we care.:heartbeat
  9. by   Never_too_late
    Quote from earle58
    i know we aim for peace deaths, acceptance and closure of the dying and their family members.
    but often, this just is not the case and no matter how much we've tried, too many deaths are not the peaceful visions of quiet transition.
    it takes its' toll.
    the more you give of yourself, the more it takes from you.

    leslie
    So how do you cope? Move on?

    I have lived such an experience lately. A short staffed night with a highly acute pt requiring one on one care and the other patients on the unit (palliative care unit -hospital setting) paying the price. So many things went wrong, not as important as how I felt: inadequate, helpless, ashamed of myself and the team for putting ourselves in this predicament (why do we take in such acute/unstable cases when we are short staffed and worn down), anger afterwards. I have been doing palliative nursing for 2 years ( I am 50) and this is the first time I have felt this bad about things. A few colleagues (doctors included) showed concern for the situation we lived through that night, others were in two camps, the 'get over it' gang (this is about you, suck it in and move on, we all have bad days) and the 'get used to it' gang (this is about the health system and its just the way it is). I don't ever want my definition of palliative care to be: well, it would have been worse on a med-surg floor or in emerg but am I too idealistic? Do we just have to accept that sometimes things will go horribly wrong (from a personal point-of-view) and divest ourselves of a situation over which we had little control? I am having trouble doing that, I am afraid that it will become 'just a job' because that will be the only way to overcome these difficult circumstances as Leslie pointed out: the more you give of yourself, the more it takes from you.

    Any thoughts?

    never_too_late

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