Published Jun 1, 2005
You are reading page 3 of First Death Experience
I work in a low-care aged care facility (which I think is the Australian equivalent of Assisted living). I'm a personal care assistant, which is probably the same as a CNA.
My first death experience happened at the start of my shift. It was about 6.30am, I went into a resident's room to help her get ready for breakfast and found her on the floor. Not breathing, no pulse, very cold and stiff.
A part of me knew she was dead, but I kept calling her name, half-expecting her to wake up. :stone
Then I went and got one of my co-workers, and she was great and seemed to know exactly what to do, and was sensitive to the fact that this was my first death. For the rest of the shift I had to be bright and cheerful for the sake of the other residents, but driving home from work that afternoon I think it finally sunk in.
I think it was hard, because it wasn't a 'good' death. She didn't look peaceful. I don't know how she got out of bed, or why. She must have passed away sometime between the time night shift last checked on her, and when I came in. On the other hand, she was DNR, and was very old and frail and had been wanting to die for a long time, despite everyone's best efforts to keep her motivated and involved in the activities at the facility.
When I got home, I lit a candle in memory of that resident and just sat and remembered her for a while. I think that really helped, it gave me a chance to say good bye. I now do this whenever one of our residents passes away.
What a wonderful way to say goodbye! I'm sure it is very difficult in your situation, because in a LTC facility your patients stay with you for so long ... you really get to know them well.
To all of you, thank you for sharing your stories, and giving support. I think the first one is a real shocker - because it's like something you never think will happen until it does!
I talked with one of my best friends last week about it. (She is a business gal, a NON-nurse who holds nurses, and wanna-be nurses like me in the highest regard!!) She really put it in perspective for me... I'm going to share it with you, because it meant so much. She basically told me:
Not everyone can handle this. Lord knows, I can't. There'd be no way I could clean up vomit and wipe up poo like you do, let alone handle a death!! You have understand that nobody can handle this alone - not even you! You've got someone watching over you and with you at all times. You have to know that this is your calling. You wouldn't have gotten this far if this isn't what you are supposed to be doing with yourself - And you need to keep doing what you're doing because there's someone up there walking you through this... Your patients are very lucky to have someone like you to be there for them and treat them with dignity in their passing.
She said a lot more, about my personal situation, but I'm paraphrasing now... (This was the gist of it, though) When she said that to me, it brought tears to my eyes... It's so wonderful to know that there are people you can come to (((you guys included!!))) to help you through the rough spots!!
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