Have you ever cried when a Pt died - page 4

by Topaz7

8,718 Views | 43 Comments

Sorry if there is a thread somewhere on here already about this. I remember the first time one of my patients died on me. I was taking care of her and she got very sick, I was working in Assisted Living at the time so the rules... Read More


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    Mattnurse, I don't doubt that you are an excellent nurse and it may not be in your personality to cry and I bet you are awesome in a crisis---think I may have worked with you in a few places along the way BUT I respectfully disagree that most men in nursing would agree with you. I HAVE worked with some very manly men over the years and yes they do cry.......and they are not ashamed to let others see them. Does it make them better nurses--not necessarily but does it say they cared----and it does hurt to lose a patient whether you may have taken care of them for a long time or you lost them in a code situation and didn't know them at all. With time I hope you soften a bit---you'll still be an excellent nurse and maybe just maybe you'll have a better understanding of what wellsjc meant when he/she said it can make you a 'better' nurse.
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    Some of us shed a tear and some of us don't.
    If your eyes fill with tears, know that it is okay...but check yourself and your emotions as it is important not to reverse roles with the family. We cannot let ourselves be perceived as needing comfort from the bereaved.

    Some families view a tearful eye as an acknowledgement of the value of that deceased loved one.

    I have known a number of male nurses over the years, I have witnessed very few of them cry at the death of a patient...even in the PICU, the NICU, or in Hospice. Of course, I have witnessed very few female nurses cry under the same circumstances too.
    nursel56 likes this.
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    Quote from MattNurse
    I respectfully disagree. I don't cry and I am an excellent nurse. I have never, and I doubt that I ever would cry when a patient dies. It isn't my personality. I have other ways of dealing with anxiety and it doesn't make a nurse that cries a better nurse. I am guessing you are talking in general terms, but most men I know in nursing would probably feel similar to myself.
    I never cried over a death, while on the unit. I have cried on a unit only once. It was when I broke my a... (let me rephrase that) gave all I could give to a man that was dying. I even sacrificed time with the other patients so that I could make his family happy. At the end of the shift they went to my supervisor. They said that I was a careless bastard for not giving their father the care that he deserved. Exhausted, I went into a empty room and I cried my guts out. Because of their complaint I was never asked to come back to that hospital again. (I was agency). So yes, this hardhearted former Air Force cop cried. Does this mean I am a better nurse, hardly. You are probably ten times better than I am. I'm just saying I cry rather frequently when I get home. All of the sorrow gets to me - like the time I had to tell a beautiful young girl that was on her way to being a model that, because of a drunk driver she would never walk again or standing with grieving parents over a lump of flesh that used to be their baby before the truck hit him. Yes, I have had plenty of crying nights at home. I know that I should get out of the business but after 40 some years nursing sort of grows on you like a fungus.
    nursel56 and tewdles like this.
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    Yes, we all have a patients that are near and dear to our hearts. I have also attended many funerals.
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    Thank you everyone for the responses! I recently had a Pt committ suicide. I had taken care of him on the inpatient unit and in ECT. He was 21 and wanted to become a nurse. We had a 'meeting' where anyone could join and we discussed what to do when a patient is determined to die. I've always hated to cry in front of other people and think I'm being too emotional, but it gave me comfort to know that this young man had touched many other co-workers hearts and it was nice to see I wasn't the only one crying over him. Everyone's stories also helped to see that I shouldn't feel ashamed to cry over a patient, as long as it doesn't send me into the psych ward over it
    nursel56 and tewdles like this.
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    Quote from grntea
    yes, of course. even in critical care sometimes we'd have patients for long, long stays, and with primary nursing (thank god) you can get attached. when you see the first bad lab report, the first little bit of blood coming out of a tube where there shouldn't be any, the first couple of stitches dehisce, and you know where this is going because you've seen it before, you keep a calm face on for the patient's sake, but then you go in the locker room or your car on the way home and you cry and cry and cry. you go in the next day, and they're incrementally worse, but still there; a few more days or a week, and the end is in clear sight, and still you don't cry where anyone can hear or see you, including your spouse and kids. then the day arrives when you come in and all the pressors are up and running, the vent pressures are way too high, the gases are awful on 100%, there's no urine in the bag, the family has been told that it looks bad, and all you want to do is turn everything off, bathe the person you laughed with just a week ago for one last time, and cry. but you don't do any of that. you crank up the pressors, you push the furosemide, you cover the mottled legs as they turn color higher and higher. you suction, you fill and empty, you wipe, you open, you close.and then, just as fast as that, the code is over and everyone leaves the room. they ask the family to wait until you are ready. you clear away all the lines and the tubes, get the bloody chux off the floor and the linens in the basket, and get all of it with the vent and the pumps out of the room and out of sight down the hall in the utility room. then you bathe your patient one more time, do your best to erase the effects of days of failure and suffering, lay on fresh linens, and go get the family. then you all cry.
    this is the best post i've ever read. thank god for you, mrs. tea.
    tyvin and tewdles like this.
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    Normally no...I chose "not" to work with children just for that reason. I am Hospice and I cry with the family but I don't cry for the person who has passed on; I am happy for them. They are always in a better place and that is what comforts me. I've assissted hundreds of people to the other side. I draw strength from them and always make a deal to meet them on the other side. It's going to be a huge party...you're all invited!

    I am not heartless but heartful; knowing their passing is for the better.
    tewdles, Honeybee737, Topaz7, and 1 other like this.
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    I agree in that case, it's better to let go then to suffer through in physical pain. I hate to see people in emotional pain too, but when they choose to die by suicide I cry because I wish there was something we could do to make that pain go away. I'm sure being in hospice you have probably seen Pt's who have given up the will to live also. How do you handle that? When a Pt is determined to die?
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    Quote from Topaz7
    I agree in that case, it's better to let go then to suffer through in physical pain. I hate to see people in emotional pain too, but when they choose to die by suicide I cry because I wish there was something we could do to make that pain go away. I'm sure being in hospice you have probably seen Pt's who have given up the will to live also. How do you handle that? When a Pt is determined to die?
    To answer your original question - yup. Not every time, since it does depend on a number of different factors, but I have cried over the death of a patient. Not publically, and not on duty - however, it's also readily apparent when I'm having an emotional reaction to a death so it's no surprise to either my co-workers or the patient's family members.
    As to patients that are determined to die - what I do is to try and get them talking about WHY they want to die, and try to get a dialogue going to determine whether there is something I can do to help. Oftentimes, just talking with them will help to alleviate some of their suffering - but, it's also important to remember that there may not be much we can do for them, other than up their morphine dosage or whatever.
    If they're genuinely determined to do something about it, realistically other than putting them on 24/7 observation in an institutional setting there's not a whole lot that can be done to stop them and while I'm a very firm believer in "death with dignity" I'm also a staunch advocate of personal freedom, which includes the right to take one's own life if one so chooses. BUT - I do my very best to make sure the patient has explored ALL possible options before using the "final solution" approach, and so far I've not had a patient actually commit suicide.
    Note that my service in Hospice has been as a patient care volunteer, and not as a professional - however, I've discussed the topic of death and suicide with a number of my LTC patients (as a CNA), and those I've volunteered with in Hospice as well.


    ----- Dave
    Topaz7 likes this.
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    I'm as tough as they come, but I've cried. When you're in a room with 12 people, and they are all quietly crying, while a child is in bed with their dead father begging them to come back (and you can't leave because the wife has a death grip on your hand), I can't imagine standing there like a stone. I've cried "off stage" when I know I'm about to have to code someone who's in their 90's, end stage everything, and the leeches in their family are crowing "do everything" in the same breath they're asking how long they can wait until they have to notify medicare/medicaid to stop the check. I've cried with families who've just received devastating news that a child is brain dead, all while watching the mom absently petting the teddy bear they'd brought from home for their little boy. I've cried when a patient is going for a nursing home placement to the crappiest place in town, and their only worry is who's going to look after their cat, when I've heard the family saying they're going to "take it to the dump" as soon as "mom's out of the house" and the mental image of that poor cat being thrown out, losing both home and human is breaking my heart (I managed to get them to give me the cat, and took it to the SPCA -- declawed, and they were going to throw it out). I see a lot of bad, sad, maddening things in my job; we all do. And the one thing we do a poor job of as nurses is getting to mourn. I think if you don't have some kind of mourning mechanism (tears, exercise, art, whatever), especially for patients you've had for long periods of time, it can hurt you more than you think.


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