Emotional disaster

Nurses General Nursing


I get really attached to people and their families when taking care of them. Or just people in general. Sometimes I have a very hard time keeping my emotions in check around pts when it comes to bad news. Does anybody have advice on how to fix this, or conceal it better? And how to leave your emotions at work and not take them home to worry about. I'm almost a new grad so I haven't had a lot of experience but I could use any advice on how to help me keep my emotions under control and how to leave them at work. Thank you!

Specializes in med-surg, mother-baby.

I was like you as a new grad, and I thought Id always be that way. Emotions in a nurse are not a bad thing. They will help you give your patients the care they deserve. If you leave it all behind, you will become cold, and thats when its time to consider changing careers. You dont have to worry about keeping your emotions in check when giving a pt bad news, because its NOT YOUR JOB to give the bad news. You can be there to help them with the aftershock after, and its completely ok to shed a few tears with a pt you've made a bond with, its human. If you feel overwhelmed, walk out, go get some air, a coffee, go talk to colleagues, or just lock yourself in the bathroom and let it all out. When you leave work, leave your scrubs and all work gear there...or lock it in your car where you cant see it. Then put on some music and think of something else. But even with all that, there WILL be patients who touch you deeply, who you hurt for, and who will make you cry. It doesnt make you a bad nurse to cry. I personally think its part of what will make you a good nurse, as long as you can put it aside when things are critical.

Hope that helps a little :)

Specializes in ER, ICU.

First off, I think you're in a great field because people can tell that you care and it is very helpful to them. If you focus your priority on doing your job and supporting patients and families emotionally it will help you take the focus off your own feelings. It's OK to show a little emotion but you will have to learn how to create that separation between your feelings and your job as a nurse. It is hard sometimes. It is very important to have a good support system at home, as well as ways to relieve stress and engage your mind elsewhere, like exercise or reading.

Specializes in NICU.

Emotions are human and can help make you a great nurse. Don't be afraid to let your patients see that you feel their sorrow and their joy. Although, if it's more than a few tears you might want to find a private place. I have cried in my car more than once at the end of my shift. I personally wear my heart on my sleeve and I have found that saying a pray and putting my patients and families in God's hands helps me to not take then home with me.

Good Luck find your balance!

Specializes in floor to ICU.

Keep being a caring nurse. Time will help.

Specializes in Hospice.

Im a hospice nurse...so i come in knowing that all of my pt's have gotten bad news. It's hardest when my pts are children or young parents. but when people ask me how i do what i do , i tell them that i know that I can't change the situation but i can do my best to help my pts cope and be as comfortable as possible despite that situation.

You will burn out quickly if you bear the burdens of your pts, so the way i deal is coming in with that attitude and trying to given them the best care possible and take solace in that.

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry.

I read in a book (God, I wish I could remember which one, I'd love to read it again), that there are a lot of times in life where we can't "DO" anything but "bear witness" -- we can't "un-cancer" or "un-MI" or "un-CVA" a patient. We can't give that now bedridden after a massive CVA patient back the life they had before. We can't give families back the mom/dad/child/sibling or parent they had yesterday. What we can do is what the book called "bearing witness." That means you stay with the patient or family *if that's what they want* and you make sure nobody who dies is alone if you can help it. There have been a lot of nights where we'd get the DNRs from the local NH, and they sent them to us just so they'd die in the hospital instead of the NH; I'm the last person that held a lot of people's hand. If it doesn't touch you, something's wrong with you.

Having said that, it does get easier over time; you develop your coping skills. I'll tell you a secret. Everyone that I've lost that I became close to, when they pass, I plant a rosebush or other plant in the yard. It's not creepy, I don't go out and called an azalea "Mr. Jacobs" but it's my way marking the end of a life with an act of creation and beauty.

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