I don't know how you nurses deal with death

  1. 2
    Today I sat and watched as my mother lay dying in her bed at the NH. Horrible-not like in the movies at all. I sort of knew what to expect but actually seeing someone die is a lot harder than most can imagine. Her lungs were so full of liquid and she rattled when she breathed. Then, at the exact moment she exhaled for the last time, all that fluid came up and out of her mouth and after a few seconds I knew she was gone. I am sad that will be my last image of her. Did she look peaceful when she was gone? No, she was just "gone". I've read so many stories about how peaceful they look at time of death and was a little shocked that it wasn't like that. It was a surreal experience and I will never forget it.

    Yet in spite of it being so sad I am happy I was there at THAT moment. My Dad had gone out to have a smoke and the hospice nurse and chaplain were out of the room for a minute. I was the only one there when she died.

    That being said I don't know how you guys can deal with this on a daily basis. I watched the hospice nurse and it was amazing how she helped my Mom so she didn't suffer. I have a new respect for the nursing profession-I know I couldn't to this every day.
    on eagles wings and Salesman217 like this.
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  3. 44 Comments so far...

  4. 10
    There is a certain pride that comes with helping someone die with dignity. When I know it's inevitable or leading to that (in ICU) I can switch my focus to providing them the most comfortable and swift passing. I can also prepare the family so that they are ready and can get their own support. We try to make the deaths as planned as we can (removing support) so that family can be present and it can be a good experience for them. I take comfort in that. For me it's more painful and difficult to deal with when I feel like I am keeping a patient alive in vain or because the family is in denial. I feel like I am doing stuff "to" the patient, versus "for" the patient.

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Please take care of yourself and try not to remember the last moments if they disturb you. I'm glad you were able to be there if only for the peace of knowing someone was with her.
    Hoozdo, Good Morning, Gil, tewdles, and 7 others like this.
  5. 4
    Hello, there. I extend my condolences for the loss of your mother.

    I've worked with the elderly population in nursing homes, so I have seen many different people transition from life to death.

    I cannot speak for other nurses, so I am only speaking for myself. Personally, I do not feel grief-stricken when patients die unless I have gotten very close to them. So far I have felt a profound sense of loss over two different deaths because I had gotten especially close to the two little old ladies, so when they died I became tearful.

    I totally love everything about hospice. May your mother rest in peace.
  6. 0
    The nurses in the NH were really attached to her-one in particular. It is going to be really hard on her because she loved my Mom and was trying so hard to fight back the tears last week when they thought she was dying then. But she was a fighter and hung in there-she turned 75 last Sunday so we think she just wanted to stick around for her birthday.
  7. 2
    So sorry for your loss. I work in the ER, so I see death a lot. It's easier for me because I know we save as many lives as we lose, if not more. Death isn't fun, but it's a part of life and as long as I know that we did everything we could, I deal with the death. I like knowing that I provided a dying person with dignity in their last hours, that no matter their condition, I talk with them, tell them what I am doing and what's going on, and treat them as I hope to be treated if I am ever in their shoes. It's just a part of the job, you take the happy with the sad.
    KariCraw31 and DizzyLizzyNurse like this.
  8. 3
    I'm sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one and taking care of patients who are dying or may die are not similar to me at all.
    TootieCutie, HouTx, and Nascar nurse like this.
  9. 2
    Quote from Lil'mama
    I'm sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one and taking care of patients who are dying or may die are not similar to me at all.

    That wasn't my point. I was saying that it must be hard to deal with death and dying on a regular basis. To me it doesn't matter if it's a loved one or a patient-it's the part about watching someone die and the whole process. I just couldn't do it on a daily basis like some of the nurses do here regardless of who it is.

    I know some people say they it's just part of the job but in reality the medical field is a job like no other.
    tewdles and Nascar nurse like this.
  10. 9
    I work in hospice and I think your perspective changes when you deal with death on a regular basis. I don't see death as a bad or awful thing for the patient, I see death as something normal that everyone must go through, and my job is to make it as comfortable and dignified as possible. I am rarely sad when a patient dies, but if it is my family member or a friend it is totally different. I am sad because I will miss them, or if their death was caused by an accident or crime, I might be angry or devastated by what the person might have experienced, but my patients are expected to die so there is different feelings when they pass.

    I am sorry your Mom's death was not as nice as you were hoping, my patients whose lungs fill up at end of life like that are the hardest on everyone as you feel so helpless. Be assured that your Mom probably wasn't aware of the fluid by that point and it is harder for you to watch, than for her to experience.
    yginay, TootieCutie, tewdles, and 6 others like this.
  11. 3
    Although it is obviously difficult to lose our loved ones, death must be accepted as a natural and inevitable part of life.

    I am often sad or scared for my patients - particularly ones that I've come to know over the course of their illnesses. Usually, it feels like an honor, to me, to be a small part of the process for the patient and his or her family.

    I am much more disturbed by the futile attempts to extend life - to me, this can be far more heartbreaking and difficult than watching over a patient as they die.

    PS - sorry for the loss of your mother, and glad to know she wasn't alone at the end.
    Last edit by Do-over on Feb 24, '13 : Reason: add condolences
  12. 0
    It is especially difficult to watch a loved one die, heartbreaking and yes they don't always die peacefully, watching someone struggle to breathe, especially a loved one is torture. But the important thing is you were there for your mom she didn't die alone. May all your wonderful memories of her thru your life comfort you at this sad time! Know she is finally at peace and no longer struggling to breathe! I've read a lot of near death experiences from people who died and were brought back to life and they always want to stay in heaven with God and their loved ones in heaven and many times are literally forced back because their "work" is not done. So know she is happy and watching over you from heaven!


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