Dead Patients!!!!!!


Hello Everyone,

Im so excited about starting my CNA classes next month, but i have only one fear thats the fear of dead ppl. So i would just love to recieve some advice on how should i go about overcoming my fear of the dead?.....


263 Posts

Uh. Maybe not working in a hospice, nursing home, hospital, ICU, ER, or anywhere where there are seriously injured people.

Either that or maybe if you're working in a nursing home long enough and you can see one slowly dying then you may be able to slowly handle it overtime. I"m really not sure how you could overcome it. It sounds a lot like going into nursing but afraid of open wounds. That's just my opinion. Unless you work in a hospice I doubt you will see dead ppl everyday and I don't think they will be just lying around like you see on TV.


Specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery. Has 34 years experience. 8 Articles; 3,012 Posts

As a student nurse this was one of my fears, and the first time I helped with a deceased patient I was terrified, but it didn't last very long and actually it was a very humbling and respectful experience. I was lucky enough to be mentored by a caring and thoughtful nurse who guided me through what I needed to do and maintained the dignity of my patient throughout.

Now, I try to pass this experience on and always treat my deceased patients with respect and dignity. I find that talking to them helps, whilst washing and getting them ready for their loved ones to say goodbye.

It's an honour to be able to do this for a patient, the final act of respect and care

Dorali, BSN, LPN, RN

Specializes in 6 yrs LTC, 1 yr MedSurg, Wound Care. Has 12 years experience. 1 Article; 471 Posts

I felt the same way you do. I didn't have any of my residents die for a long time on my shift. I decided ahead of time that when the time did come, I would make myself go in and help. When someone did finally pass, which was only a couple of weeks ago, I did just that. It was not as bad as I thought it would be. The man looked like he was sleeping. Another CNA was in the room and we just did things the way we do when they are still alive, just did a few extra things like placing their hands and making sure their mouth was closed before rigor mortis set in.

To be completely honest, I kept looking at his face to make sure he didn't jump up and scare me! Ha ha! Too many scary movies, I guess!

Overall, it was a humbling and respectful experience.

fuzzywuzzy, CNA

Specializes in LTC. Has 3 years experience. 1,816 Posts

Our policy at my work is for 2 CNAs to do post-mortem care. That way no one has to do it alone, because it's pretty normal to be freaked out by a dead body. Like XB9S said, it helps to talk to the body as you prepare it. And if it's a resident that you've gotten to know and you were there doing their comfort care as they were dying it's really not so bad.


34 Posts

Thanks so much i guess it gets better with just gonin to take my fear head-on and do the best that i can......Thanks again!!!!!!

KimberlyRN89, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg/urology. 1,641 Posts

FWIW , I've been a CNA for almost 2 yrs and have yet to see someone die. But while we were at clinicals, we all did see a resident who had just recently passed. Since he was on hospice, they were to handle his post-mortem care so we did not help with that. But like someone mentioned, its really not that bad. They look so peaceful after they pass.


Specializes in LTC/Rehab. Has 4 years experience. 347 Posts

Lol. One of the first thing I do once I start my shift is, to make sure my residents are in bed, alive and make sure all bed alarms are on and call lights in reach. Working with the elderly, there's a strong chance that any resident could pass away at anytime of the day. Death is just a part of life. Perform your job the best way you can, but I don't think there's any reason to get freaked out at the mere thought of a resident/patient dying. Gregory House once said, "People Die!!" :lol2:


178 Posts

I think this is one of those things that people seem to think will be a big deal, but after they experience it turns out not to be. I've never heard of anyone who had to give up being a CNA or nurse because they couldnt deal with it.

I've seen a fair amount of dead people during my time as an EMT and even my short time as a CNA, including an autopsy, and the only one that ever bothered me at all was a teenager who hanged herself. This isnt because im callous, its just a natural process that happens to everyone, especially the elderly. Once they have died their suffering is over and theres no harm you can do them so I dont see what the big deal is.


Specializes in Oncology. 9 Posts

So far in the last week I've had 3 pt's die on me, and we hadn't even got them onto the hospital bed before they died. If you don't like working on the dead then don't work on the Oncology unit. For some reason other units seem to think that we're good at dealing with the deceased so they ship pt's who are on their last few breaths to our unit so that we get to watch them die. Nice of 'em, eh?

Theres no real easy way to get used to it. The hardest part is hearing the families crying or screaming. THAT is what stays with you, not the pt's death. Also remember that when a pt dies they let out a death rattle. I knew that the first time but it still kinda creeped me out.


1 Post

I've done post-mortem care several times since becoming a CNA. At first I was a little freaked out about it, but after doing it once or twice it wasn't so bad. I've always had someone else in the room with me while performing the care though.

Good Luck!! :)

That Guy, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency/Cath Lab. Has 6 years experience. 3,421 Posts

The first day I worked in ICU, well within the first hour, one of our patients died. I had never been around a dead body that was intact ( I worked a few bad car wrecks ) so it was new to me. I kid you not, I was worried about the zombie effect. I swear I watch too many movies. But just being there and having an RN talk me through it the first time, it ended up going fine and you get more comfortable with it over time.