Bereavement Chair Advice/ Help Nurse Cope with loss

  1. 1
    Hello,
    I recently took over the position in our PICU of bereavement chair. I'm looking to support our nurses on coping with a loss of a child. I looking for any suggestions that you may do in your hospitals that can help our new nurses and our senior nurses cope with the death of children. How do you deal with death in your profession & what would you like to see changed on your unit that may help. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated
    lindarn likes this.
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  3. 11 Comments so far...

  4. 4
    We have an unwritten but always followed policy: If your patient dies on your shift, after the family leaves, you may go home. No questions asked. I have only had one patient die thus far, and it was helpful.
    canoehead, poppycat, Hygiene Queen, and 1 other like this.
  5. 1
    That's so far from what happens on our unit that you can't even see it from here. One night I had an infant 29 days old die in my arms. I'd been one of his primary nurses so it wasn't even a question that I would take him for the shift. He breathed his last less than an hour into the shift. After I'd done the post mortem care and all the paperwork had been done I stood by the bed looking at him when my manager came into the room and told me I had to send him to the morgue ASAP because I was taking over care of another kid at 11. On another shift I was supposed to be the resource nurse but ended up taking admission of an infant in cardiac arrest about 90 minutes into the shift. There were valiant efforts to cannulate for ECMO but ultimately they failed. The parents had already left the hospital when the arrest occurred and so we left messages for them at RMH and on their cell phones. Meanwhile I sat with the baby waiting for them. Eventually the charge nurse came to the room to tell me the manager had said I couldn't keep the body in the room, I had to take it to the conference room across the hall to wait. The family finally arrived at about midnight and we stayed in the conference room for more than an hour. There was never any suggestion that I should go home. As for debriefing... they arrange those for a time when most of the people involved are off, and I live too far away to drive in for something like that on my own time.
    canoehead likes this.
  6. 0
    Quote from janfrn
    That's so far from what happens on our unit that you can't even see it from here. One night I had an infant 29 days old die in my arms. I'd been one of his primary nurses so it wasn't even a question that I would take him for the shift. He breathed his last less than an hour into the shift. After I'd done the post mortem care and all the paperwork had been done I stood by the bed looking at him when my manager came into the room and told me I had to send him to the morgue ASAP because I was taking over care of another kid at 11. On another shift I was supposed to be the resource nurse but ended up taking admission of an infant in cardiac arrest about 90 minutes into the shift. There were valiant efforts to cannulate for ECMO but ultimately they failed. The parents had already left the hospital when the arrest occurred and so we left messages for them at RMH and on their cell phones. Meanwhile I sat with the baby waiting for them. Eventually the charge nurse came to the room to tell me the manager had said I couldn't keep the body in the room, I had to take it to the conference room across the hall to wait. The family finally arrived at about midnight and we stayed in the conference room for more than an hour. There was never any suggestion that I should go home. As for debriefing... they arrange those for a time when most of the people involved are off, and I live too far away to drive in for something like that on my own time.
    I'm so sorry...... I know how painful it is. {{ hugs }}
  7. 0
    Sometimes we could go home, sometimes not. If the babe was really sick, and they had staffed for him/her, they might be overstaffed when the baby died, so you might be able to go home. However, it didn't always work that way. It might be someone else's "turn" to go home early, so you had to take their assignment.

    Once, I was sitting w/the baby in the nurses station waiting for security to come and take the baby (w/me) to the morgue. The charge nurse took the baby out of my arms, and told me to go on transport w/another nurse for twins. I had worked 9 hrs already on the baby that had passed, I was useless on that transport. Don't think I had a brain cell left in my head!!
  8. 0
    I wish we could go home, but if it happens at the start of your shift or in the middle, you are kind of expected to "tidy up" and pick up a new assignment. We had one of our brand new nurses walk into a maelstrom and I told her to go home when it was all done. She was fried and I knew there was no way she could function after that. Got my tail feathers clipped for that decision because our matrix called for 17 and I took our numbers down. Whatever.

    When we had our one pastor, he always made sure we had a debriefing, but the cut our clergy and we only get supervised students now. Sucks to suck as they say
  9. 1
    janfrn and prmenrs, you are both much stronger people than me. I can't imagine being able to do what you did.
    Bortaz, RN likes this.
  10. 2
    You would be surprised at what you're capable of when circumstances demand. With experience and longevity comes a sense of "how can I NOT?" that you aren't conscious of until after it's over. You do what your heart tells you is the right thing.
    Bortaz, RN and meanmaryjean like this.
  11. 0
    Quote from janfrn
    You would be surprised at what you're capable of when circumstances demand. With experience and longevity comes a sense of "how can I NOT?" that you aren't conscious of until after it's over. You do what your heart tells you is the right thing.
    This is the wisest thing I've ever read here. You're a special kind of heroine.
  12. 0
    Quote from Bortaz, RN
    This is the wisest thing I've ever read here. You're a special kind of heroine.
    The night that I gave a baby that I knew was already gone fentanyl because his pacemaker was still pacing (we're not allowed to do anything with them other than verify settings - our doc being at a code on another unit) and his dad was sure he was in pain was perhaps not my finest moment. But I'd do it again. In a heartbeat.


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