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Client has made decision to end life/doctor assisted suicide

I know this is a very sensitive topic, so I will proceed with caution and respect. I am hoping to have the same regard from all who reply.

I work for a home health and hospice group. Most of my experience has been as a CNA providing a range of care for people with home health and end-of-life care needs. I really love the work that I do and find it to be immensely gratifying.

One of my clients was receiving home care to help with ADLs. She has made the decision to end her life and will be doing so rather shortly. I have never dealt with this kind of experience before. Considering I will be continuing to practice in this area in my journey toward nursing and advanced practice nursing, I suspect I may have the experience again at some point in my career.

I have been present through many end-of-life journeys, and am always moved to some degree. I have learned how to cope with this process and I get better at it all the time. I was profoundly moved, though, when I learned this about my client.

I don't really want to get into a whole debate about whether or not this is the right thing to do. I would love to hear thoughtful words from those of you who have had experience with this, and how you came to terms with your own reactions. Thanks for listening.

Edited by VivaLasViejas

i don't live in a state where this is legal, but do have experience w/pts ending their lives.

i don't know how i'd react to pas, but would hope that i would handle it the same as a pt taking their own life or dying from their disease process.

esp where it's legal, we have to keep our personal feelings aside and pray for a peaceful death.

afterall, it isn't about what we feel.:)


Yeah, I agree with you Leslie. I care for her in the same way I would anyone else, terminal or otherwise, and have tried to do so without judgement. It has been a great learning opportunity, and she is very open about her feelings and rationale. I am happy to report that it wasn't really judgment that I felt, just a different kind of sadness perhaps.

Since she will relieve our services just prior to her death, we actually won't be caring for her until the end. Maybe that is one of the things that feels different to me. Hard to say. In the hospice care I usually provide I am used to caregiving through the end. This just felt different, probably since I didn't have a framework for it yet.

I am pleased that early on in my career/education I was inspired by wise individuals to check in with my own biases and how they come across in body language, tone, word choice, etc. Biases can be toward how someone decides to die, or live for that matter. I recall many times in years past how I disagreed with my own father's choices as to how he would treat his various chronic conditions. I learned over time and with more professional experience how to respect his choices. Talk about early lessons in stepping back and respecting the patient bill of rights and personal rights to make decisions.

As medical professionals we will be called to care for people from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, religions, and so on. Often they may vary quite differently from our own. It is not really our place to judge. I have always appreciated the opportunity to serve in such cases, which I feel ultimately make me a better provider by increasing awareness of other points of view.


VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

You sound like a very wise and compassionate caregiver. Your current and future patients are, and will be, fortunate indeed to have you as their advocate. Good work!

Hi VivaLasViejas,

I am not able to do PMs yet, but thanks for your private note. We all need reminders about the information we put out there. I appreciate your candor and well wishes.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!


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