When Nurses Cry - page 5

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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    I shed a tear reading this too!! I just put my four month old to bed......
    I used to be a SICU nurse & decided it was not for me due to the high level of stress and emotions with family. One day I was taking care of a 78 year old male who was in a motor vehicle accident with multiple fractures. Patient was doing very well after being extubated and his daughter came to visit asking if he was medically and mentally stable enough to discuss arrangements for his wife because she died in the accident. I didn't know what to say, the daughter was crying because her dad was driving over to her house for dinner when a truck hit the car at an intersection.
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    Quote from njrn09
    I shed a tear reading this too!! I just put my four month old to bed......
    I used to be a SICU nurse & decided it was not for me due to the high level of stress and emotions with family. One day I was taking care of a 78 year old male who was in a motor vehicle accident with multiple fractures. Patient was doing very well after being extubated and his daughter came to visit asking if he was medically and mentally stable enough to discuss arrangements for his wife because she died in the accident. I didn't know what to say, the daughter was crying because her dad was driving over to her house for dinner when a truck hit the car at an intersection.
    How tragic
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    Quote from tnbutterfly
    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. He was to go home and grow a bit more before undergoing a surgery that would correct his heart anomaly.

    I had just come from the room not 5 minutes earlier and the baby was laughing and playing on his fatherís lap. So cute..... The frantic father suddenly appeared in the hallway with the baby in his arms. He was no longer laughing but his little body was lifeless, his face very pale.

    We rushed him to the treatment room as the code was called and the babyís physician was notified. Any code is unpleasant, but a code blue on a Peds floor is a dreadful experience.

    The tiny treatment room was alive with a high level of anxiety and activity as the many responders crowded around the tiny pale body. Many were unsure of dosages for one so small, but were willing to help in what ever way they could. The babyís pediatrician arrived and took charge. Despite the long and valiant efforts of many, the baby did not survive.

    We were all exhausted......emotionally and physically. The family was devastated as was the entire medical team, tears streaming down the faces of many. There were so many tears. Even the pediatrician was crying. So very sad..........

    The parents were holding onto one another, sobbing quietly, as the doctor and nurses tried to offer their support. In the face of such an overwhelming and painful crisis, nurses were able to make a difference that day as they provided tender and compassionate care to the mother, father, and extended family....through their tears.

    Because of the very nature of our work, nurses encounter many situations of grief, death, sorrow, and crisis. While we frequently witness others crying around us, we try to maintain a ďlevel of professionalismĒ, keeping our emotions in check, especially in front of the patient and/or the family, or other staff. Some people view a display of emotion as weakness, and will suppress their feelings, remaining controlled at all times. As a nurse, it is certainly necessary to control your emotions so you can handle a situation and provide safe and appropriate physical care for the patient. But periodically, not showing our emotions.....our humanness......is viewed as cold and unfeeling. In certain situations, expressing genuine emotion can be a sincere way to provide emotional support.

    Nurses work very closely with their patients, providing intimate care to the whole person on a daily basis. We see their struggles against their disease; we hear their cries of pain. As we share intimate and intense conversations with patients regarding their care as well as their fears and concerns, we get to know more about them as a person. Because we get to know them and their families so well, we end up caring for them. It is easy to become attached, even though we try to put up our professional boundaries.

    Patient suffering and death does affect us as nurses. How we respond is different for each of us. As nurses, we strive to provide compassionate care, sharing in the grief, loss, and fear experienced by patients and their families. We want to do more than just go through the motions, becoming numb to the pain of others.

    Seeing that doctor cry openly after the death of that infant so many years ago, made a profound impact on a very young nurse who was just embarking on her career. My level of respect for him as a doctor and a person grew. Since that time, I have seen many nurses and doctors shed tears in the presence of the patient and/or family.

    These days, I more often care for people on the other end of the life cycle. I am often called upon to stand alongside someone as they take their last breath. I still get tears in my eyes, but I donít even try to hide them.



    To read more articles, go to my AN blog: Body, Mind, and Soul

    Be the Nurse You Would Want as a Patient

    From the Other Side of the Bed Rails - When the Nurse Becomes the Patient

    This was a great post. I am a new grad and often think about how I'm going to hold myself together when I can barely look at a cute picture of a puppy and not tear up. I really think that people appreciate when they see your emotion because they realize they are not just another patient. Thanks for this
    HappyWife77 and tnbutterfly like this.
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    This was a great post. I am a new grad and often wonder how i am going to keep it together when i can barely see a picture of a cute puppy and not tear up. I think it is appreciated by patients to see that they are not just another disease but a human being. Thanks for this
    tnbutterfly likes this.
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    I have cried tears of joy and tears of sadness in front of my patients and families. I know they appreciate it. Other times I have to be strong for the family, and I save the tears for the supply room.

    When my dad passed away from an asthma attack, we had made the decision to take him off artificial life support as he was declared brain-dead. We decided to donate his organs. When the team came to get him, the entire team showed up-- all of them-- to escort my dad to the OR. Some of them had tears in their eyes and said what a privilege it was to work with our family. One doctor asked what kind of music my dad liked and he downloaded it onto his ipod and said he would play it during the surgery. The social worker also came and hugged us and said what a wonderful family we were, and she would keep us in her thoughts in the coming days and months. She also had some tears. It was so nice to see. And it put such a human touch on our difficult situation.
    tnbutterfly likes this.
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    Anon and the rest of you with your stories....

    You got me.

    I'm crying now, too!!

    I call myself the crying nurse!
    tnbutterfly likes this.
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    What a wonderful article, brought tears to my eyes. I have cried with patients or a family member for different reasons a number of times, just a few tears that I couldn't manage to hold in. They are not always the things one would expect. Once were the few unexpected tears of joy after the birth observed during nursing school. Another time was with a middle-aged man who was in his last weeks on this earth due to a terminal illness and was grieving about his own impending death but also struggling with missing his son who he'd lost to suicide, and wondering if he's ever see him again in in "the next life". Another when a pt with a disease that he felt stigmatized him thanked me for giving him a needed hug and treating him "like a human being", and that just saddened me to no end. Nothing wrong with showing some emotion....I think in the end it conveys how much you care about what is happening to a patient or family and just makes it apparent that a connection has been made. Nothing wrong with being human.
    tnbutterfly likes this.


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