It's one of those things that you can't learn in a text book. I mean yes, you can learn post-mortem care (cleaning the body, tagging, etc) but you can never be taught how to emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually handle death.
My only advice is to just be aware and conscientious of it. One day, you will most likely have a patient die (depending on where you end up working), it happens. Expect it.
The hardest part, in my opinion, is dealing with the family. They are the ones whose reactions will really affect you most. I remember my very first day of clinical, having never worked in a hospital before, I had an 80 something year old patient who the nurse told me at report "could go any time now". While the patient was completely unconscious, the daughter was at the bedside weeping the whole day as I fumbled through my first few hours in the medical field. Fortunately, she did not pass on my shift, but it showed me that the family can sometimes require more care than the patient.
That's the other reason text books could never tell you how to handle deaths: every one will be different. Sometimes the patient will be DNR, asleep and alone in the room, you may go in to check something and find them already gone without any sound or warning. Other times there will be family in the room who freak out when they realize their loved one has passed. Other times you'll have a full code patient fighting for life and losing.
So to summarize, no, you can't fully prepare because you don't know what situation you're preparing for.
Last edit by Mr. Murse on Mar 1, '14