How would you comfort a dying atheist? - page 8

by stripbubbles

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Also, do you think it is okay to respect the religious views of other family members , like praying, last rites... if they insist it be done?... Read More


  1. 5
    You comfort atheists they way they want and need to be comforted. It is individual for each dying person while we are using the basic elements of listening and hearing the person.

    We don't treat atheists any differently than we treat any other type of person. It ALL hinges on them, their needs, their lives, etc.

    So...if they need me to leave them alone, I leave them alone. If they need me to hold their hand, I hold their hand. ETC, ETC, ETC. It really can be just that simple.
    mindlor, julianp, leslie :-D, and 2 others like this.
  2. 2
    Quote from tewdles
    You comfort atheists they way they want and need to be comforted. It is individual for each dying person while we are using the basic elements of listening and hearing the person.

    We don't treat atheists any differently than we treat any other type of person. It ALL hinges on them, their needs, their lives, etc.

    So...if they need me to leave them alone, I leave them alone. If they need me to hold their hand, I hold their hand. ETC, ETC, ETC. It really can be just that simple.
    exactly, tewdles (re the bolded).
    frankly, i was a tad perplexed at the title of this thread, because it infers that dying involves either believing or not believing.
    that's only a part of it, though.
    it can involve anything but.
    i've tended to many deaths where God and/or afterlife, was never mentioned.
    i've had staunch believers that were much less so, as death neared.
    i've had staunch non-believers who've smiled at the thought of a possible *other* life.
    some dying people want to talk, chit/chat...others choose to watch tv and tune everyone out.
    some even use their meds as an escape.
    so to ask how to treat a non-believer, is akin to simply asking, "how to treat a dying person".
    whether they are a believer or non-believer, is a moot point unless the pt expresses concerns/questions.

    so yes, back to what tewdles is saying - it truly is contingent on who the person is- their personality, their values, their involvement, their energy levels - lots to consider when trying to allow your pt to die well.
    often enough, the issue of believing/not-believing, is the least of their concerns.

    leslie
    tewdles and wooh like this.
  3. 4
    Quote from lilybug12
    Im am so sad to see so many atheists. I too wish everyone could feel the peace I know. the very reason I became a nurse was to share the good news. I will not push it on you , but I will share and I will pray for you.and if asked I would lead prayer.
    It is very condescending to tell us how sad you are. I'm totally at peace with my spirituality but I would never put yours down by telling you how sad I am that you are making the wrong choices.

    I find your question a bit odd, as I've comforted many dying people of differing faiths. You hold their hand, talk to them, and do your best to comfort them. Sometimes that means bringing in a shaman, priest, or minister (seen them all), or whatever the patient needs.
  4. 0
    Quote from nurse2033
    It is very condescending to tell us how sad you are. I'm totally at peace with my spirituality but I would never put yours down by telling you how sad I am that you are making the wrong choices.

    I find your question a bit odd, as I've comforted many dying people of differing faiths. You hold their hand, talk to them, and do your best to comfort them. Sometimes that means bringing in a shaman, priest, or minister (seen them all), or whatever the patient needs.
    That is very considerate of her to think of us as Human Beings. I hope her holy man is there for her last hours on this earth and not an atheist. We would do the same thing her holy man would do only we wouldn't ask her family for a donation after she dies.
  5. 5
    As an atheist I find it insulting for people to say they think it's sad to see so many atheists. Atheists have purpose and know peace. Atheists know that life on earth is the only life we get and as such, each day is a gift-not to be wasted and we know that when you make a mistake there is no second chance, no shrugging it off as "meant to be". This makes one very aware of the consequences of actions and more sensitive to causing pain and suffering. We are also a group that deserves the same respect and consideration as all cultural groups.
    Atheists may not believe in a God or a heaven, we find our peace in what we accomplished on earth. You don't need to believe that there is a world after death to find peace and satisfaction in the life you lived. This is what you need to realize when comforting a dying atheist. Helping them to find peace and closure is important, just like with any other dying person. If there is something they need to do, someone they need to see, or something they need to say-that would be important. Comfort, empathy, and RESPECT for the dying person are also important. Do not insult them by trying to force your beliefs on them or continually bringing up heaven or God to them, that's disrespectful.
    *4!#6, JFranklinfutureRN, tewdles, and 2 others like this.
  6. 2
    I am what is called an agnostic. We believe in sort of higher intelligence wee just admit that we lack the wherewithal to comprehend such an omnipotent concept.

    People believe what they do primarily as a source of peace, security, predictability and purpose.

    Belief is a very individualized thing and one individual telling another individual that their belief is bollocks is never going to be productive. As nurses we are patient advocates and we are to support the patient's belief system. It is not about us. Our opinions in the clinical setting are 100 percent irrelevent.

    As a nurse it is our job to perform a spiritual assessment on the patient ans then to intervene per thee plan of care that we have developed in collaboration with the patient.

    So what we say or do to comfort a dying patient is going to vary from praying, to telling dirty jokes........there is no correct answer.......
    tewdles and Not_A_Hat_Person like this.
  7. 0
    I would also like to add that nurses bashing eachother, either on the unit or here on these forums does little to further our profession. We need to be united and advocate for our profession and for eachother. Infighting causes cracks in our foundation and gives outsiders a chance to fingerpoint and say AHA, those nurses sure can be a wacky lot........

    lets all stand tall and united together.
  8. 7
    Since when does a nurse's role include imparting his or her religion on others? especially on a person who is a captive audience? (No one is more captive than a patient on his deathbed.) I don't recall any religous classes as part my nursing education, nor did any employer tell me it was part of my job as a nurse to share my religious beliefs with any patient. Not only is it inappropriate, it is unethical. No matter how convinced anyone is that their religion is the 'truth', there are many others who believe a different 'truth' and who are just as convinced they are right. And, no matter what you were taught as a child there is no proof that your religious teaching is more valid than the teachings of other religions--or valid at all. Religion is a belief system, simply that--a belief system--not an undisputed truth.

    It's unfortunate that anyone would think that their beliefs should be forced upon a dying person--or any patient for that matter. If these patients wanted to be ministered to, they would contact clergy and request prayers or consult with a minister, rabbi, or religious person of their choosing--not a nurse who wants to play minister to a captive audience. If you really want to spread the word of your religion, do so on your own time, when you're off work, and make sure your audience is receptive and willing to hear your message.
    JavaWenchRN, Horseshoe, *4!#6, and 4 others like this.
  9. 3
    Good point, Patty.

    It is NOT part of our profession to preach, proselytize, or promote one belief over another. We must learn how to set aside our PERSONAL beliefs in order to fully hear what the patient and family need. We must be able to then discover how to offer those "things" regardless of our PERSONAL thoughts or beliefs.

    Agnostic, Atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc...people of all faiths practice nursing and work with persons of differing faith at end of life. The "good" practitioners can accomplish that without EVER revealing their personal attitudes to the patient or family if necessary, but only mirroring back the good and important things that the patient and family need to see to find peace in THEIR process.
  10. 6
    Though I've not been a nurse to many deaths this far in my career, in my personal experience I've found that most atheists are more accepting and at peace with dealing with death than most believers. I personally don't believe in an afterlife, so comforting believers can be a tricky situation for me sometimes, but I do so with respect for their beliefs and situation, and I definitely don't pity them for fearing something I perceive as make-believe and rather hokey, and I DEFINITELY don't try to influence their beliefs in any way.

    Many believers have a lot of trouble accepting that there are very happy, fulfilled atheists out there who will die in true peace without sharing your faith in God or afterlife, knowing that they have lived this life to the best of their ability and understanding.

    Think of it this way: how would you want an atheist nurse to treat you on your deathbed?
    BluegrassRN, *4!#6, Clovery, and 3 others like this.


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