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Black Humour

Posted

Specializes in Mental Health, Gerontology, Palliative. Has 9 years experience.

That sort of humour that seems completely funny when shared with your colleagues, you know though if an outsider was to hear it they would be completely scandalised/offended

Its happened before when I've worked with palliative patients, this queen song keeps running through my head.

We've had two palliative patients who passed today and I've had to keep giving myself some mental slaps every time I start humming it.

Anyone else find they have a black sense of humour?

I laughed really really hard at this.

Then I felt awful for laughing so hard....

CamillusRN

Specializes in OR, CVICU/CTICU.

We had a patient pass away whose initials were E.T.

"E.T. go home!"

CamillusRN

Specializes in OR, CVICU/CTICU.

Oh, come now. Surely you've developed a dark sense of humor that helps you cope through the loss of a patient?

One of the hospice nurses I used to work with said one of her patients died happy with his face in a taco (choked on Mexican food). Now THAT was unprofessional.

ixchel

Specializes in critical care.

I have a dark and twisty sense of humor. I try to keep it to myself in mixed company. One of these day I'm going to land myself in the hot seat. Honestly, though, I think to an extent it helps shake off a bad day.

CamillusRN

Specializes in OR, CVICU/CTICU.

I have a dark and twisty sense of humor. I try to keep it to myself in mixed company. One of these day I'm going to land myself in the hot seat. Honestly, though, I think to an extent it helps shake off a bad day.

I think you and the OP are dead-on (no pun intended :roflmao:) - only other healthcare professionals will understand. Anyone else, and you're a cold-hearted and unprofessional freak.

middleagednurse

Specializes in nurseline,med surg, PD. Has 50+ years experience.

One day I had a patient who was declining and I was humming that Queen song in my head. I LOVE Queen and like to blast their CD when I'm driving.

I think you and the OP are dead-on (no pun intended :roflmao:) - only other healthcare professionals will understand. Anyone else, and you're a cold-hearted and unprofessional freak.

Actually, I have a great sense of humor! I just don't think making fun at the expense of someone's death is appropriate. I never called anyone cold-hearted or a freak but maybe somewhere in the back of your mind, you know you're wrong.

Oh, come now. Surely you've developed a dark sense of humor that helps you cope through the loss of a patient?

One of the hospice nurses I used to work with said one of her patients died happy with his face in a taco (choked on Mexican food). Now THAT was unprofessional.

Fortunately CamillusRN, I haven't developed a dark sense of humor and I'm sure I will never poke fun at the death of a patient. There's plenty of other coping strategies that could be utilized, humor is just not the one. Put yourself in their families shoes.....

Edited by Brown-Hughes RN

CamillusRN

Specializes in OR, CVICU/CTICU.

Fortunately CamillusRN, I haven't developed a dark sense of humor and I'm sure I will never poke fun at the death of a patient. There's plenty of other coping strategies that could be utilized, humor is just not the one. Put yourself in their families shoes.....

Please understand that I never "poke fun" at the death of a patient whose life was entrusted to me as soon as they came through my doors. I take every patient death seriously, and will be as somber as a judge when discussing arrangements with the family. I understand that death is an inevitable part of life, and it's something all nurses will have to deal with regardless of their specialty. Some specialties, however, deal with it more often than others.

I'm not sure what clinical setting you work in, but in Trauma/ER/ICU, we witness the types of death no-one should have to see. The blood, the screams, the futile gasping for air through a severed trachea, the smell of burning flesh and I could go on and on. This is the type of death we see on a fairly regular basis. If we weren't able to see at least one glimpse of humor through it, the level of burnout on these units would be far greater than it already is. When I see that mangled body on the table and the despair on the faces of my team, there is no psychologist at hand to relieve that feeling of failure when the patient dies. I can't project myself onto a peaceful island to blot out the mental image of carnage.

Humor was my coping strategy with the patient I mentioned because I had to picture a happy CGI character going home instead of the bleeding mass that used to be a young healthy teen with the rest of his life in front of him not even an hour earlier. When I laugh about something ironic or unusual regarding a patient's death, it's not because it's actually funny. It's so I'm not trying to comfort the kid's mother with my teeth clenched and fighting back a wave of expletives demanding to know why it was this kid that died and not the unharmed drunk that ran him over. It's how I can move on to my next patient that just rolled in without breaking.

I'm sorry if I sound calloused or heartless. This is not the type of thing I would ever write about on facebook or other social media. Only other healthcare professionals understand. I've posted a link to an article about death and coping in the ER. Please give it a read - it may help you understand where we're coming from. I wish you all the best.

http://news.nurse.com/article/20110221/NATIONAL01/102210041/-1/frontpage#.VSp4EvldWSo

Edited by CamillusRN
Got a little emotional

Please understand that I never "poke fun" at the death of a patient whose life was entrusted to me as soon as they came through my doors. I take every patient death seriously, and will be as somber as a judge when discussing arrangements with the family. I understand that death is an inevitable part of life, and it's something all nurses will have to deal with regardless of their specialty. Some specialties, however, deal with it more often than others.

I'm not sure what clinical setting you work in, but in Trauma/ER/ICU, we witness the types of death no-one should have to see. The blood, the screams, the futile gasping for air through a severed trachea, the smell of burning flesh and I could go on and on. This is the type of death we see on a fairly regular basis. If we weren't able to see at least one glimpse of humor through it, the level of burnout on these units would be far greater than it already is. When I see that mangled body on the table and the despair on the faces of my team, there is no psychologist at hand to relieve that feeling of failure when the patient dies. I can't project myself onto a peaceful island to blot out the mental image of carnage.

Humor was my coping strategy with the patient I mentioned because I had to picture a happy CGI character going home instead of the bleeding mass that used to be a young healthy teen with the rest of his life in front of him not even an hour earlier. When I laugh about something ironic or unusual regarding a patient's death, it's not because it's actually funny. It's so I'm not trying to comfort the kid's mother with my teeth clenched and fighting back a wave of expletives demanding to know why it was this kid that died and not the unharmed drunk that ran him over. It's how I can move on to my next patient that just rolled in without breaking.

I'm sorry if I sound calloused or heartless. This is not the type of thing I would ever write about on facebook or other social media. Only other healthcare professionals understand. I've posted a link to an article about death and coping in the ER. Please give it a read - it may help you understand where we're coming from. I wish you all the best.

http://news.nurse.com/article/20110221/NATIONAL01/102210041/-1/frontpage#.VSp4EvldWSo

You keep saying "only other healthcare professionals understand." I am a healthcare professional and I really don't

understand. BTW, I work in CC and have experience in trauma. So on that note, I wish you all the best and hope that one day you'll realize that not all "healthcare professionals" have a sense of black humor.

bluegeegoo2, LPN

Specializes in LTC. Has 11 years experience.

Please understand that I never "poke fun" at the death of a patient whose life was entrusted to me as soon as they came through my doors. I take every patient death seriously, and will be as somber as a judge when discussing arrangements with the family. I understand that death is an inevitable part of life, and it's something all nurses will have to deal with regardless of their specialty. Some specialties, however, deal with it more often than others.

I'm not sure what clinical setting you work in, but in Trauma/ER/ICU, we witness the types of death no-one should have to see. The blood, the screams, the futile gasping for air through a severed trachea, the smell of burning flesh and I could go on and on. This is the type of death we see on a fairly regular basis. If we weren't able to see at least one glimpse of humor through it, the level of burnout on these units would be far greater than it already is. When I see that mangled body on the table and the despair on the faces of my team, there is no psychologist at hand to relieve that feeling of failure when the patient dies. I can't project myself onto a peaceful island to blot out the mental image of carnage.

Humor was my coping strategy with the patient I mentioned because I had to picture a happy CGI character going home instead of the bleeding mass that used to be a young healthy teen with the rest of his life in front of him not even an hour earlier. When I laugh about something ironic or unusual regarding a patient's death, it's not because it's actually funny. It's so I'm not trying to comfort the kid's mother with my teeth clenched and fighting back a wave of expletives demanding to know why it was this kid that died and not the unharmed drunk that ran him over. It's how I can move on to my next patient that just rolled in without breaking.

I'm sorry if I sound calloused or heartless. This is not the type of thing I would ever write about on facebook or other social media. Only other healthcare professionals understand. I've posted a link to an article about death and coping in the ER. Please give it a read - it may help you understand where we're coming from. I wish you all the best.

http://news.nurse.com/article/20110221/NATIONAL01/102210041/-1/frontpage#.VSp4EvldWSo

I don't work in that environment and can't imagine trying to shake those moments off in order to be able to perform in the next, but I do understand using humor to alleviate some of the emotional stress nursing can bestow upon us. I routinely find "humor" where there shouldn't be any. It helps. A lot. It's one of my main coping tools and allows me to move on and care for others as opposed to crying in the bathroom over a loss and being of no use to anyone.

CamillusRN

Specializes in OR, CVICU/CTICU.

I wish you all the best and hope that one day you'll realize that not all "healthcare professionals" have a sense of black humor.

I concede that not all healthcare professionals have a sense of "gallows humor" - you're actually the first I've come across. By all means, continue with your current coping system as it seems to be working for you.

But please don't call those of us who use such humor to get through our shift "unprofessional." It's a coping technique that's been around since death itself, and is accepted by an overwhelming majority of the healthcare community as a valid means of escape, even by interest groups devoted to the research of ethics in healthcare (PRESS RELEASE: 09.26.11 Is Gallows Humor in Medicine Wrong? - The Hastings Center). I value your opinion as a healthcare professional (I apologize for the oversight in previous responses), but I will continue using my dark, ghoulish humor to recover as quickly as possible from one trauma patient to provide effective, focused care to the next.

la_chica_suerte85, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

I had the very lucky experience to help take care of the body of a toddler who was brain dead and was getting ready to have their organs donated. It was a rough night on the PICU I was assigned to (this toddler wasn't the only child who had died that night and it was overall just a big clusterfugazee of a night, I guess) and all the nurses had been singing praises of the doc who had lead them through that hellish night. He had gone off to sleep and returned about 4 hours later, as rested as could be, to do his rounds. He popped into our room and asked the nurse I was precepting with, "How's everything going?" and, without missing a beat, "Besides the pt being dead."

.......................

.......................

HAH! :laugh:

I wanted to freaking die laughing but I just smiled, my nurse laughed and it helped lighten an otherwise dark day. So, yes, even as a student, I know the dark side of my sense of humor is rapidly developing. You need to laugh. It isn't unprofessional. You would drown in your own tears if you didn't laugh about this. The universe is a giant practical joke. Just laugh.

la_chica_suerte85, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

Fortunately CamillusRN, I haven't developed a dark sense of humor and I'm sure I will never poke fun at the death of a patient. There's plenty of other coping strategies that could be utilized, humor is just not the one. Put yourself in their families shoes.....

It's not poking fun at the pt's death. It's just kind of approaching the situation from a different perspective. And, as you'll notice, frequently this is done either in one's head or only with those who will understand and appreciate lightening the mood -- NEVER in front of the family! When you feel like you're about to cry when you're favorite pt just passed and "Another One Bites the Dust" pops into your head at the right time to make you smile and dissolve that wave of emotions so you can focus, I can't really see anything wrong with that.

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

My sense of humor can be very dark and at times twisted...sometimes it needs to be for me to cope with the stress. But I find it's best for me to keep that sense of humor to myself until I get an idea of the sense of humor that my coworkers have--you never know who will be bothered/offended by what.

And it definitely stays out of the sight of the patient and their family.

I concede that not all healthcare professionals have a sense of "gallows humor" - you're actually the first I've come across. By all means, continue with your current coping system as it seems to be working for you.

But please don't call those of us who use such humor to get through our shift "unprofessional." It's a coping technique that's been around since death itself, and is accepted by an overwhelming majority of the healthcare community as a valid means of escape, even by interest groups devoted to the research of ethics in healthcare (PRESS RELEASE: 09.26.11 Is Gallows Humor in Medicine Wrong? - The Hastings Center). I value your opinion as a healthcare professional (I apologize for the oversight in previous responses), but I will continue using my dark, ghoulish humor to recover as quickly as possible from one trauma patient to provide effective, focused care to the next.

Oh definitely, I will continue with my own version of coping strategies when it comes to the loss of a patient and it doesn't include running to the nearest restroom to ball my eyes out.

If that's what it takes for you to get thru the day after losing a patient, then carry on. You put it on the health care professionals "social media" and I responded. If you don't want to hear both sides then don't post it. Enough said.....