Angels of Mercy

Nurses General Nursing


When a baby is born it is such a blessing, and an honor for nurses to assist, (often doing it solo) the new life into this world.

Did you ever think of how much a blessing it is to be present when a person leaves this world? Death is a tough one. Alot of us are very nervous around it, and uncomfortable. I was for a long time. At times I still am.

When I became an RN 9 years ago I worked in MICU and saw more death in one year then I hope to ever see in 10. It did make me face my own mortality, and what it all "means".

One death experience......

It was eight years ago in the ICU. This elderly woman was a DNR,lying in her bed with her elderly, very proper looking, husband standing on the left side of the bed. He was dressed in his overcoat with one hand holding his hat, the other very gentily stroking her hair. Her two grown children on the other side, quietly standing holding her hand. My preceptor and I stood at the end of the bed. It was evening so the sun was low and sent this warm glow into the room.

I stood there and watched the ekg slowly go from SR to JR to VER......agonal. The room was very quiet, and the family didn't move. All eyes on the woman. As the monitor slowed, you could see the life slowly and quietly leave her face and body, as it relaxed into a 'stronger presence' that was in the room. The whole time the husband stood there and stroked her hair back, and slow tears dripped from his cheek. Asystole.

I was quietly crying and so was my preceptor. There was a very strong presence in the room. I though,"Gee this is sad, but in a way, very beautiful. We encouraged the grown children of the woman not to shy away from her, but to hold her hands and touch and hold her. Some day they will look back and be glad they did.

PLease, let's hear some of your stories, good, bad, funny, whatever......

Hi, Nursedeedee. I loved your story. I have worked in nursing home and had several similar situations. You are right, there is something so sad, yet so beautiful to be part of life and death. I am thrilled that early this AM, I was able to be part of a new life being born. My niece gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. All I could think of was how similar babies and the very dependent elderly are so much alike...feeding, changing diapers, looking around confused, etc. The beginning and end can be beautiful experiences.

I began looking at taking care of the dying person as a blessing when I was working at a convent for retired nuns. When someone was dying there was always other nuns at bedside singing, praying and holding their hand to celebrate the entry into eternal life. I was glad to be a part of those experiences.

Deedee, loved your story. I have two particular stories that I want to share. During my training, in my L&D rotation, I shared in a very sad situation. Firstly, my teacher did not want me to care for this pt. initially, she thought it too sad for a student. I wanted, at the time to be a Midwife someday, so decided I could handle it. I was only 18 at the time.

My pt. was a middle 30's mom to be, and her family, consisting of her husband, 13 yr. old daughter, and 10ish year old son. My pt. was 7 months along, and the baby stopped moving. She was told the child had died. You can imagine this family coming in to be induced.......I can still see them all holding hands. Her labour was very intense, terrible really, and all for what? She delivered a tiny, perfect looking son. It was so heart breaking. The nurse and I cleaned the baby up, having to be so gentle, because his skin would rub off with each small wipe. We bundled his little self up, carefully placing his head in a little blue knit hat. The familly took him, named him, held him, discussed now I was gone down the hall to give them some time and have a bit of a breakdown. I learned alot that day though, don't regret it a bit. My teacher, bless her soul, gave me a huge hug, and cried with me. They were such a wonderful, strong family, I admired their courage.

The second story comes from my days as a nursing home RN. I was in a small town. Everybody I cared for was special to somebody I knew. The residents were very well cared for, and loved. My favourite resident, well, one of them, was Ruthie. Ruthie had dementia, and was the cutest little confused lady in the world. She loved to laugh, but when she did, it was a race to get her to the bathroom, she also had a weak bladder. Luckily, she had a family who cared about her a great deal. There was always a bottle of rum, so she could have the occ. drink. She loved that. Ruthie and I used to sing together, especially "You Are My Sunshine". In her last days(she fell, broke her hip, and never came back to us really), I used to drizzle her a bit of rum with a straw, and sing to her. Occ. she would sing back.......She had lead such a hard life, you know, the only girl out of 9 kids, took care of everbody, etc.....Before her mind had failed she was a huge women's rights activist, and very busy in the community.....I am a better person for having known her.

jkh, that must have been a great comfort to have the nuns there singing and praying. And to mud, are you sure you are not in Tennessee? One of my favorite elderly patients was a younger (61 y/o, year old), with Alzheimer's. She would stand very close to me as I was rolling the med cart down the hall and we would sing, "You are my Sunshine." Other nurses, visitors would ask me, "Doesn't it bother you that she stands right behind you so close and follows you down the hall?" I told them no, that I loved it, that I was obviously filling some need. She used to be a kindergarten teacher and we connected in some way.

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