When Nurses Cry - page 4

by tnbutterfly Admin

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Although itís been more than 30 years ago, I remember the occasion very clearly. My first death on Peds as the charge nurse. It was horrible. A four-month old with a congenital heart defect was to be discharged that afternoon.... Read More


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    This is such a special article that really hits home with me. As an ER nurse, my emotions can change from one end of the spectrum to the other in a split second. The unknown is part of why I do love my job. We deal with every kind of patient you can imagine, from sick infants to dying elderly patients who have suffered much longer than they ever should have to Psychiatric patients who will yell, cuss and attack you-and Everything in between.

    When I lost my Mom to cancer the 1st week of my last semester of nursing school, I had some not so pleasant experiences with medical and nursing staff, as well as experiences with other staff (mostly nurses) who made the death of my mother as dignified as it could have been...you know, those people who make you genuinely think, "wow, they have a special gift and have found their God-given calling." As I was trying to figure out what kind of nurse I was going to be, I quickly learned what kind of nurse I didn't want to be. It may seem obvious, but sometimes it is easier for us to push away our emotions and harden our hearts to what once would have brought us to our knees.

    I believe that we all have days (in any profession) when we think, "Why did I ever choose to do this?" I admit that I have become quickly jaded to some of the things that I deal with on what seems to be a daily basis. I hope that I never loose that compassion that helps me to *care* for and about my patients. I have cried with my patients, prayed with my patients and prayed for my patients and their families. Please remember that if you are ever in a situation when you have to be a patient, you never know what the staff who is caring for you may have just dealt with or what they may be about to walk into. I hope that I can be one of those caring nurses...after all, when the compassion is gone, it is time to move on.
    Nurseladyjester and tnbutterfly like this.
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    mitzidu.......thanks for your comments. I appreciate the care you provide to your patients in the ER setting. I am sure they feel blessed to have a compassionate nurse like you attending to their needs in a crisis situation. Compassion is an integral part of nursing.

    I love your entire post, but especially this portion:
    I hope that I never lose that compassion that helps me to *care* for and about my patients. I have cried with my patients, prayed with my patients and prayed for my patients and their families. Please remember that if you are ever in a situation when you have to be a patient, you never know what the staff who is caring for you may have just dealt with or what they may be about to walk into. I hope that I can be one of those caring nurses...after all, when the compassion is gone, it is time to move on.
    I have written a couple of other articles that address being on the other side of the bedrails....so to speak

    Be the Nurse You Would Want as a Patient

    From the Other Side of the Bed Rails - When the Nurse Becomes the Patient
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    I lost a patient on Friday that I had worked very hard to save, she was young, and I feel like I didn't have the support I needed to properly care for her. I could clearly see that she was heading in the wrong direction and we (charge RN and myself) repeatedly reached out for help. By the time help arrived it was too late, she coded a minute or two later. We didn't get her back. My heart is still breaking over it. I cried that day, in front of co-workers, with the family and many times alone with God since then. I think that if I didn't have the ability to show my humanness and my grief at losing this patient that I shouldn't be nursing any longer.
    tnbutterfly likes this.
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    Nurseladyjester, thanks for sharing.

    Tears are not bad. I'm sure the family was touched by your "humanness".

    You might find comfort in sharing your feelings with the hospital chaplain. Nurses need spiritual care, too.
  5. 1
    hah, odd timing for this post.
    i only worked with this one family probably 7 or so shifts in icu step down and 1x in icu the day we had an interdisciplinary meeting with the family for hospice consult.
    the family was of chinese immigrant parents caring for their critically ill and developmentally disabled adult son. for one reason or another i ignorantly *assumed* they were Bhuddist or generally not some "type of Christian". Turns out they were indeed, Catholic, like myself. I let the mom do a lot of the talking. Dad was stoic. The topic of hospice had come up a few times, but the day of the consult mom and dad were a mess.
    mom and dad kept asking me if it was "okay" or "was hospice the *right* thing to do?"
    obviously, i told them every family and every patient is different, but however you feel is *always* ok.
    So, I told them my experience with hospice with my nana a few years back. The mom asked me if I thought dying hurt and what I think Heaven is like. So yeah, i told her what i thought heaven was like, in my opinion and that towards the end of our earthly journey, nurses become even more focused on pt comfort and dignity, but take a different approach with pain meds and anti anxiety meds. I sort of read her and the family, read how the situation was going. If HR was standing near the door, they would have flipped out.
    But, i stepped back and I truly listened to what she was asking me. she asked me "does it make me a bad mother to give up hope for my son?"...I said "i'm not a mom, so I wont insult you by pretending to have a clue what you are feeling right now. But i personally believe that hospice allows for a different type of hope for your son. A hope that towards the end of his journey he can pass peacefully as your son, not as my patient. in his own clothes, in a nicer bed without wires, tubes and machines. that his day will not be judged based upon K+ levels."

    i stopped in for a lunch and learn today on my day off and saw the parents in our lobby. their son had been discharged to hospice last week so i knew this wasnt good. i went up to them both and i hugged them a good long hug and didnt say anything. i knew. they knew that i knew.

    these two parents touched me. their love for their son, their appreciation of the hospital staff, the palpable grief.

    turns out, i am invited to attend their sons memorial service this sunday. i will attend. the mother thanked me for sharing my experience with loosing my Nana and how twisty-turny my grieving process for her was. she said most of the other nurses were not warm to her or their son and she felt they the nurses were "annoyed" by having to "deal" with their family when the hospice convos started. that made me so sad to hear about my coworkers.

    i got watery eyed a few times over the weeks listening to the mothers agony over her son. i am only human.
    tnbutterfly likes this.
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    Quote from FLArn
    Thank you for your article. When so often we are told that we should never shed tears, I agree that in certain settings and in certain situations, tears are an expression of caring and emotional support for the family. When a patient I have taken care of for a long time dies and I am the one who attends the death if the tears come, they come. This is esp. true of my pediatric hospice patients. Thank you for reinforcing that we can be effective nurses and human at the same time.

    It's funny that it was ingrained in many of us of a "certain age" not to cry in front of a patient or their family because it was "unprofessional," yet it's that same display of humanity that touches them and makes them feel that we care about them.
    tnbutterfly likes this.
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    Thank you.
    tnbutterfly likes this.
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    I think there is nothing wrong with shedding a few tears with our patients. It shows we are human, and that we care. Last July my 6 month old grandson died in the hospital that I am currently doing my RN clinical in. After a while of unsuccessful resuscitation, one of the nurses took my son and I into my grandson's room so we could say our goodbyes. The nurse was very professional and caring, but but I noticed that she had tears running down her face. I have seen her a couple of times while I've been at the hospital and although I'm sure she doesn't remember me, I remember her! I hope I always have the compassion to show a patient and/or their family that I am genuinely sorry for their loss.
    tnbutterfly and Esme12 like this.
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    mdyoung,

    I am so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how difficult losing a grandchild must have been. I am so glad you where touch by the compassion expressed by the nurse.
    As a veteran nurse of 18 years, I can tell you that I am very often touched by family members, because it is easy to put yourself in their place.

    May God bless you as you journey into our beloved nursing profession. I know that you will surely be able to provide the same professional and compassionate care that your family received for others in their time of greatest need.

    Best wishes!
    tnbutterfly likes this.
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    Quote from mdyoung
    I think there is nothing wrong with shedding a few tears with our patients. It shows we are human, and that we care. Last July my 6 month old grandson died in the hospital that I am currently doing my RN clinical in. After a while of unsuccessful resuscitation, one of the nurses took my son and I into my grandson's room so we could say our goodbyes. The nurse was very professional and caring, but but I noticed that she had tears running down her face. I have seen her a couple of times while I've been at the hospital and although I'm sure she doesn't remember me, I remember her! I hope I always have the compassion to show a patient and/or their family that I am genuinely sorry for their loss.
    This message touched my heart in a huge way. Your grandchild had a wonderful nurse.
    God Bless you
    tnbutterfly likes this.


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