How does an atheist deal with death? - page 3

Well, I'm not truly atheist, more agnostic, but I don't really believe in the afterlife. I am a new grad starting oncology nursing, because I loved my oncology clinical very much, and the time I... Read More

  1. by   osiris7
    I am a hopeful agnostic. I have received such gratitude from family members for caring for their loved one, that I know that the person lives on in their hearts, and that the living have the knowledge that they provided the best for their family member. That is worth it all to me.
    I think that you can't discount how being working in hospice brings up feelings about our own mortality, in one way or another. There is some degree of projection that is inevitable. When I have just seen someone die after years of frailty, and I see the photos of that same man as a healthy, happy young man, that is not an easy thing. I would urge you to explore your own inner beliefs about what you value, what you feel is more important or than your own existence, or what might transcend it. Don't confuse religion with spirituality, they aren't necessarily one and the same.
    I guess, for myself, I just don't feel that there is any particular reason that I should live on forever, but even if some part of me does, I don't think I can do much more than live a life that makes sense, and spread some love along the way. I usually just feel that when I look at younger people, it will be their world eventually, and they will hopefully care for it as I have tried to.

    Kal in San Diego
  2. by   Mistorri
    Quote from jen42
    Well, I'm not truly atheist, more agnostic, but I don't really believe in the afterlife. I am a new grad starting oncology nursing, because I loved my oncology clinical very much, and the time I spent doing a clinical in hospice I loved as well. My unit isn't palliative care, but a lot of the patients will die. My patients in oncology were the most amazing people I ever met, and I loved working with them and their families too much to give the field up. However, dealing with my patients dying is VERY hard for me, because I'm not sure there's anything after they go (not that it's not hard for everyone). I wouldn't give up my new job for the world, but I'm curious if anyone out there is in my position. Anyone have any suggestions for reading material, or just based on personal experience?
    Everyone has trouble knowing what to believe and question what they believe over and over in this life. Personally, I think Hospice has to be a "calling". Not many nurses want to deal with death that much. They prefer to help in healing the living. I am a Christian. I know in my heart there is a God. As the Bible says "My sheep know my voice". His voice is heard often if we listen. I don't think I could be happy at all if I thought this was all there was. See, I know of patients who have died smiling and reaching out. I know of patients who say they see angels, loved ones, etc. It is a very spiritual time. Some patients die horribly. But, one I had who was so sweet, so spiritual and dying of stomach cancer often told me and her family that she had been walking with Jesus and He told her He was helping her carry her cross. She counted the steps each day. It was awesome. I cried a lot over her. I know some say it is just organic and that it is lack of O2 to the brain, etc. But those who know Jesus and have "met" the Holy Spirit, oftentimes experience things that people would not believe! It has to be FAITH. That was what Jesus said. FAITH. Blessed are those who have not see(Jesus) and yet they believe. That was what He said. I have met some patients who have such FAITH that it astounds people. There is much more than this life. No one can convince me that these amazing creations called humans, who have such diversity, love to give, minds that think, can just go out like a light. I know there is a spirit in that body and it is much too strong to "wink out". It may rest, or it may go and meet the Father, but it lives on. I see so much special in all creation. Animals and humans. I still do not believe that this all just happened. There was a plan. I mean eyes were made to see, ears to hear, hand for using for many things. It is all just so organized. Too organized to be a fluke. It was a well thought out plan. Anyway, I am not trying to change your views. Just explaining mine. I am sure you are going to be a great oncology nurse! I sense a caring, loving person in your post. I say, take it day by day, and find some time to think about life as you see it and as I see it. Learn also from each patient. Just listen. They teach us so much. Especially the dying. They are just getting ready to take that last step. I have to say, many times I see them with one foot here, and one foot in the "other existence". and it is amazing! I suggest you read "Crossing the Creek". I don't have the arthur's name with me, but it is a male RN who puts it all into prospective. It is really good. May God bless you and guide you as you go about your work.
  3. by   spaniel
    Just love these posts. At the ripe age of 52 I'm thinking of a bit of a career change, as I've mentionned in a previous post. I deal with death and dying on a daily basis and interface a lot with the hospice crew. Part of me wants to delve into the MSN and the other "part" wants to utlize more holistic avenues.
    (Currently have a doctorate and do counseling- also have a BSN). Again thanks for the wonderful posts.
    Gee I wonder if there is something to this midlife thing. I have even looked into the Chalice of Repose project (I'm a musician too, but need to keep my day job!)
  4. by   RNBSN42
    I don't know how anyone can be a hospice nurse and not believe in heaven......I'd be extremely depressed if I thought death was the end instead of the beginning of eternity with Jesus
  5. by   Angelica
    I am a Hospice nurse and an atheist. I am comfortable not believing in god or heaven. I am not disturbed by the idea that death is the end. But those are my beliefs and they don't enter into my practice as a hospice nurse.
  6. by   Blackcat99
    I am curious. Do the patients ever ask the nurse to pray with them? Do they ever ask the nurse if they are Christians? I am not an atheist but I am wondering if patients ever get upset if they find out a nurse is an atheist or a non-Christian?
  7. by   Angelica
    Quote from Blackcat99
    I am curious. Do the patients ever ask the nurse to pray with them? Do they ever ask the nurse if they are Christians? I am not an atheist but I am wondering if patients ever get upset if they find out a nurse is an atheist or a non-Christian?
    I find it's safer not to mention my beliefs. I haven't been asked to pray. If asked, I would probably encourage the pt or family member to do the honors while I hold the pt's hand.
  8. by   RNBSN42
    Patients frequently talk about their spiritual beliefs/needs with me. Some of the nurses where I work don't feel comfortable addressing the spiritual topics and the patients pick up on this quickly. I'm very receptive to it and this often leads to deep spiritual discussions and sometimes prayer. Of course , for those nurses who aren't comfortable with spiritual issues, they can refer the patient to the Hospice spiritual counselors.
  9. by   Blackcat99
    Thanks for the information. I once worked at a psych hospital and one of the patients asked the nurse if she was a Christian. The nurse said no and the patient went off and ranted and raved saying she wasn't going to accept medication from this nurse because she wasn't a Christian and might be trying to poison her etc. After 2 days of this the patient calmed down and apologized to the nurse and told the nurse she was a good nurse and hoped that the nurse would be "saved" some day.

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