Death: The Reason I Became a Nurse
This article talks about why I became a nurse and how death has affected my decision to be a nurse. My experience with my grandmother and her death made me realize how important nurses are when it comes to end of life. Death has also affected how I feel about nursing and has illustrated how nurses can truly be there for a patient and their family.
Death is the reason why I decided to become a nurse. I know, it's a rather strange thing to say and I probably don't mean it in the way that most would. I don't see myself as a caped avenger, fighting death. In fact, in many cases, Death is welcome.
The journey to me becoming a nurse all started with an end; I got laid off from a factory job. Where I live, the government had an initiative that would pay for your education and some expenses if you had been laid off. When I first applied to school, nursing seemed like an okay option: it fit the requirements of the financial assistance program. But then, my grandmother started failing.
She had been in a long term care facility for approximately three years at this point. Her doctor had called my mother to say that she would likely not last the night. Of course, my family being how we are, we all rushed to the nursing home and were at her bedside.
My grandmother's nursing home was a small one; only about 50 residents lived there. When she made it through the first night, the staff moved her into their family room. It was there we stayed, keeping vigil. The room was small and my family is fairly large. But we spent the last week of my grandmother's life in that room.
I say that this experience made me decide to become a nurse for several reasons. Sure, I had already applied to school and had been accepted but I had no real concept of what the word "nurse" really meant. Watching my grandmother and the people who cared for her was the way I began to understand its meaning. When my grandmother was hot, they would give her a cold compress. If she was in pain, they would give her medication. If she was cold, they would adjust her blankets. If my family was concerned about something, they would talk with them, teach them and simply comfort them. When the time came that my grandmother took her last breath, they came in to take care of her. They talked to her as though she was still there and they had tears in their eyes when they said their own goodbyes.
Since then, I have graduated and have passed my licensing exam. I am working as a nurse at a local retirement home. In the two years that I have worked there, there have been 15 deaths. I remember each one. Death is not a battle that is fought, because there can never be any true winners. But for each of those residents who have died, I have been there.
Death can be many things to different people: friend or foe, adversary or companion, silent partner or looming threat. I believe that the most important thing about being a nurse is how you help others deal with death and how you can help them go through it. You are there for the dying person as well as the living.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 9, '15
Apr 28, '12Palliative care is such an important part of nursing that we often avoid because death makes us uncomfortable. It's really unfortunate that this is the reality of our profession, since this is one area that a nurse can truly do a great deal of good as a patient advocate.Apr 30, '12Nice to know I'm not the only one that feels the same way about nursing - and, death. Thanks for sharing... and, see you on the floor.
----- DaveMay 1, '12Quote from KBrown1981I "fell" into hospice nursing and I have to say, I cannot see myself doing anything else! It is such amazingly rewarding work. The love you see and witness, the life stories you hear, the one on one loving care you get to give, AND witnessing their transitions along with their experiences with spirits, priceless! I am welcomed into people's homes to assure that their loved one, leave this world and go into the next with peace and no pain...... but I had no real concept of what the word "nurse" really meant. Watching my grandmother and the people who cared for her was the way I began to understand its meaning. When my grandmother was hot, they would give her a cold compress. If she was in pain, they would give her medication. If she was cold, they would adjust her blankets. If my family was concerned about something, they would talk with them, teach them and simply comfort them. When the time came that my grandmother took her last breath, they came in to take care of her. They talked to her as though she was still there and they had tears in their eyes when they said their own goodbyes.
Death can be many things to different people: friend or foe, adversary or companion, silent partner or looming threat. I believe that the most important thing about being a nurse is how you help others deal with death and how you can help them go through it. You are there for the dying person as well as the living.
I know it's not for everyone, most people get sad faces and say "aaww" when they find out what kind of nursing I do; then after sharing the rewards, I get "I still couldn't do it, it's just too sad".....lol. I guess not, but we each have our own "love" or specialty and put our all into it.May 2, '12I never knew death could be beautiful until a few nights ago. The resident in a long-term-care facility was middle-aged, fought w/his health for a long time. DNR papers were signed. When his vital signs started to go down, I called the only person on his emergency contact: his best friend/long-time hunting buddy. His friend arrived, held the resident's hand & talked to him about their hunting adventures, & other good times until the resident took his last breath. After the friend had time with him, I had the staff come in to see him one last time. This resident had been there for about 8 yrs. & was like family to everyone. Many tears were shed that night, but I now know that death can be beautiful.May 2, '12Last May, my grandmother spent her final days in the critical care unit. I was able to fly out and spend her final 5 days with her, surrounded by several family members. Growing up, everyone assumed I would go to med school but life had different plans. I got married, had a family, and taught school for 20 years. Something 'clicked' with me during the days and nights in the hospital as I watched the nurses come and go into her room. Within 3 days of flying home after her passing, I applied to. I start in January. I know she'll be watching over me.May 2, '12Thx for this article Im scared of dead body specilally when my sister got hospitalized 2 death i saw less than an hr while at the waiting room, when I was a child I swear to my self no way i wouldn't like that kind of job. Then later on I think would be nice to be a nurse , then now I am , I'm glad and happy I'm a nurse specially working in nursing home dealing lots of death I feel good to myself I'm able to comfort to the family and proudly telling them your mom she was not alone on her last breath we wher there at her bed side.May 3, '12KBrown1981 "The journey to me becoming a nurse all started with an end"
Congratulations for finding your calling from within and thank you for being there for the dying and their families. I am beginning a new career as a nurse, motivated by my mothers death and our experience as she slowly died. I just graduated, April 27 with my BSN in a RN-BSN program. I never worked as a nurse I just continued my education, I am 48 years old. I am ready to get into the field of hospice, which silently called me.
A gracious thank you goes out to allnurse members who are replying to your post as I am gaining an inner perspective that I have never seen before.May 3, '12I work in the E.D. death comes all to frequently. It is an honor and a blessing to be able to be with someone when they die. It help to keep us humble too I think. There have been many time the pt has died alone except for staff. I try to give the same loving care and respect in death. We also try ti make an effort in small comforting gestures before the family sees them maybe a warm blanket on a cold body, move the directional lighting away from the massive head wound on the right, don't let the family walk into a room covered in blood and trash... There are many things that we do in nursing that no one ever knows about but you.