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Clinicals- The most profound experience ever.


Specializes in ICU-Adult Medical.

I have a client that is 98 years old with CHF and I have noticed over the past 3-4 weeks she has been failing more each week. Last week she was very anxious and asked me not to leave because she did not want to die alone. I alerted her nurses to her request and they had a sitter sit with her this week. She asked her sitter to leave early this week and has been alone the remainder of the week. I arrived this morning and she had just received her Ativan PO and swallowed it. I went in to talk to her and she was tracking me with her eyes but not talking. She opened her eyes at appropriate times and turned her head to my voice. She started labored breathing and what I was sure what the death rattle so I got my Prof.

Anyway, she came in and we noted mottling of the extremities and asked me to get the rest of our team to come in. We all did assessments on her and then I placed my hand on her shoulder and thanked her for allowing me to learn from her. I told her we were all there and we would not leave she would not die alone and if she wanted to go it was Okay. I am not kidding, she took her last breath and a tear ran down her face and that was it. She was gone at 0830hrs and I started clinicals at 0730. I know what some may say but, I am convinced she waited for me and my assurance I would not let her die alone.

It was our lecture regarding death and grieving telling us to "let them go" that really helped me. I am so sorry for rambling but, this was one of the most profound experiences I have ever had the privileged of having. I feel very blessed to have shared that moment in her life. I just hope that death or birth will never just become everyday experiences for me. I want to experience each one in its greatness or lack thereof.


~Mi Vida Loca~RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

That is wonderful you were there for her, I handled my first death about a month ago and it had a huge impact on me, we had our end of life lecture the week after, I wish we would have had it prior.

That's awesome! I think it's a privilege to be able to be with the dying as they pass.


Has 4 years experience.

That is so wonderful that you were there for her at that time! There should be more nurses like you :)


Specializes in ICU-Adult Medical.

Unfortunately I work in Neuro Trauma/ortho so it wasn't my first patient to pass. However, they typically have family and loved ones around so it is a whole different experience. This poor woman had outlived everyone she knew or loved and was alone. I am so thankful that she died with company. I believe that we are all here for a purpose and if mine was to help her then I am glad to do it.

That's great you were there for her. They really appreciate it, even though they cannot verbalize. I was an Activities manager for a NH, and one of my many duties was to hold the hand of the dying and to comfort their family. At first, it really scared me, but even after the first one, I felt ok. The first one was hard on me, but to know I made that time better for him made it all worth it. I wouldn't want to go through this everyday, as it can be tough, but it's good to know you made a difference. You sound like you're going to be a wonderful nurse, keep up the good work! ;)

diane227, LPN, RN

Specializes in Management, Emergency, Psych, Med Surg. Has 32 years experience.

It is one of the great gifts that we are given as nurses to be with those who are dying when they have no one else.

Thanks so much for sharing that beautiful story and kudos to you for having such a compassionate perspective; I agree with one of the other posters, you're going to be a great nurse!

Having the privilege to take care of my mom when she was passing is what lead me to nursing so I understand the uniqueness of that type of experience. It's profound and special!

Thank you for sharing! She is so lucky to have someone so compassionate and loving taking care of her!!!


Specializes in Home Care.

Thank you for sharing. I'm so glad you were there with her when she passed.

Perhaps she did wait for you, its a comforting thought.

You're going to be a wonderful nurse :)

9livesRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in SNU/SNF/MedSurg, SPCU Ortho/Neuro/Spine. Has 2 years experience.

you did great girl!! congratulations!!!

i remember the first time a pt passed on me... I was really scarred at first (sorry, i cant help it, anytime i see someone dead, i feel like they will wake up all of a sudden grasping for air) but after that... i am now starting to learn how to deal with it...

i guess it is my weakness

melmarie23, MSN, RN

Specializes in L&D/Maternity nursing.

what a beautiful story. This is one of the reasons why I was drawn to nursing...to help those in their most vulnerable of moments, and this includes being with them at their death bed.

thank you so much for sharing.

Thank you for sharing. I feel so touched reading that. I have no idea who the patient was or anything but I feel so grateful that you were there.

mybrowneyedgirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Room.

Wow. You were both lucky to have that experience. Thank you for sharing.

great job and hugs to you!

Just reading this has made me cry I am going to be the biggest emotional reck when I start clinicals. You did a wonderful thing by just being there and letting her know that she had someone by her side. Thanks for sharing with all of us :)


Specializes in Dialysis.

You sound like a very compassionate future nurse who is not afraid to face situations head-on. My CI told me many people tend to cut and run when faced with difficult situations or conversations, and that he can't teach compassion and empathy. You sound like you've got it. What an awesome moment to have been privileged to witness.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

Thank you for your story. You gave this lady a great gift by not allowing her to die alone. I have held babies by rights not even old enough to live outside the womb while they died, and it is amazing how even they will 'wait' to be with the right people when they go. I'm not surprised she waited for you. :up:

Thank you again.