Best Death - page 4

I don't know if this has been posted before--but I was just wondering what the best experience with death has been for other nurses out there (or anyone caring to answer). I know we deal with this... Read More

  1. by   mario_ragucci
    dis-in-te-grate To become reduced to components, fragments, or particles.
    To lose cohesion or unity: pressures that cause families to disintegrate
    Physics & Chemistry. To decompose, decay, or undergo a nuclear transformation.

    To fly into a star would mean disintergration. Atomic fission/fusion would be another example. My last $.02.
  2. by   moonrose2u
    does anyone watch "the other side" with john edward?featured on the sci fi

  3. by   ComicRN
    Hmmmm. That's a toughy. First person I saw who was dead was in between semesters of nursing school when I was a CNA. I had to go into a room with a couple of other CNA's and prepare a body for the morgue. I was scared to death! (excuse the pun!) I didn't know what to expect. I had never even been to an open casket funeral (and this at age 35!!)!!!! The other CNA's were very gentle with me and I was pleased to see that they were very gentle and caring with the patient. That helped.

    The first person I was with at the moment of death was my grandmother, when I was at the end of my nursing schooling. She was in a nursing home and had pneumonia. I went to visit her and my dad was there. He needed a break and I told him I would sit with her for a while. Of course I knew ALL about cheynne-stokes breathing, so I was watching her very intently, while at the same time holding her hand, stroking her hair and talking to her. I was scared, but it was very peaceful and didn't seem to be painful at all. And you know....I actualy consider it a privilege to have been present when she died. I feel like I was able to help her through what may have been a scary time for her. I guess I'll never know unless I see her again someday.

    I now work in long term care and still consider it a privilege to help residents and their families go through the dying process. I think it is like any other teaching that we, as nurses, do. Many families have no idea what to expect. If I can help ease their fears, I feel I have done a good job, and that makes it a "good death". If I can be a patient advocate and help ease the pain and suffering of a dying patient, then that makes it a "good death".

    Perhaps I would feel differently about death if I worked in an ED or trauma unit where the staff doesn't have the luxury of planning for a "good death", but from where I am now, I'm happy to be helping out where I can.
  4. by   eagleRN
    After being at the bedside of a large number of dying residents, I have found that each experience is unique. In the hospital it was all rush rush, rush, trying to save a life of someone you didn't know. "just doing my job" Now that I work at a convalescent center, I have been a part of the "living" of that resident. I have laughed with them, eaten with them, attempted to convince the alzheimer's pt, that I wasn't his enemy OR his wife. When they have died, I don't go running for the equipment to check their v/s, I just use my eyes, ears and touch.

    When I die I pray it's not with a b/p cuff wrapped around my arm, needles and tubes stuck in places where only God should see. I want it to be peaceful, quiet and with the ones I love.

    A "sharp" nurse knows when she is welcomed at the bedside with the family, and I never can recall one time in 25 years when I was asked to leave the room when the pt. was dying, on the contrary my presence seemed to make the dying process smoother for all concerned.

    What greater place can there be on this whole earth than to be at the side of a dying human;knowing that the last second they spend on this earth will be spent in your presence, and the next second they will stand before God. That is so awe inspiring.

    The closest experience to this feeling I have had, was when my girls were born. One second they were with God, and the next second they were laying in my arms, a gift from him to me.
    Last edit by eagleRN on May 5, '02
  5. by   mario_ragucci
    I really enjoyed reading eagle's last post, and it leaves so much for pleasant thoughts.

    "Best death" would be one you prefer to have, if you could control your death. accepted as "best death" is lethal injection. It's the method chosen by euthinasia, right? Or is it carbon monoxide?) Suiciders chose pistol shot in heart or head or to hang themselves, or OD. Thats hard.

    I may jump a few levels here with this assertion, but the true best death would be via dicintegration. One day I pray to be ejected directly into the sun so my atoms could be recycled. It wouldn't matter anyway. (no pun)

    In the supply room, I was shown the shower bags to place dead people in, so I know it could happen. I also saw the special gurney I read about on when i was young.
  6. by   micro
    the choice of............

    hope i do not face it for a long time and even longer than 77 yrs of age.........

    but then again.............

    death, nothing much more real than that.............

    micro, wonders how she smiles and laughs sometimes.....and finds joy..........but micro does
  7. by   Ted
    The best death(s) witnessed were during my oncology days. The patients who seemed to die the "best deaths" seemed to have accepted their death - were at peace with themselves and their "Maker" - and were surrounded by their loved ones.

    There were a number of people who, after "fighting the good fight" found peace with the inevitability of their death. They were and still are my heroes.

    Death is a tough subject to talk/write about. This is a good thread. . .


    P. S. This is where I'm "at" with death. . . I want to live. . . I want my family to live. . . I want my friends to live. . .

    Last edit by Ted on May 7, '02
  8. by   dianthe1013
    Both of these instances are outside of nursing practice, but...

    The best death I've ever witnessed was that of my great-grandmother. She'd endured surgical treatment for mandibular cancer for nearly two years, and was in so much pain that it hurt all of us to even look at her.

    Then, something happened to her that changed my life; one of the floor nurses came in to check her vitals one evening while we were visiting, and my great-grandmother (who was heavily medicated at the time) asked if it was "all going to be over soon." The nurse (whose name was Sylvia, I still remember that) brushed a hand across her forehead and told her that God had a plan. It seemed to be exactly what she needed to hear, and something that no one in our family had been able to express.

    She died two days later, and it was Sylvia's caring and simple response to my great-grandmother's pain that drove home with me exactly how much difference health care professionals can make. And while her doctors had tried to heal her body, only Sylvia ever let her know that more than that mattered.

    The worst death I've ever encountered was my grandfather's. He had a quadruple cardiac bypass. When he was one week post-op, a blot clot entered his heart. He died in the local ER after being transported by ambulance.

    Most of our family was able to make it to the ER before his doctor came out to tell us he had died. They allowed us the opportunity to go see him one last time. I wish I hadn't done it. I was fifteen at the time, and seeing him was a huge blow to me. I'd never seen a dead person before, and it was apparent by his frozen facial expression that he'd died in enormous pain.

    Now, I'm a former forensic science student and current nursing student. I've seen plenty of dead patients. I have yet, however, to have one die on my watch. I'm not sure how I'll react to that.

    Sorry for the long posting. I'm afraid I'm a bit long-winded.

  9. by   mattsmom81
    Interesting posts everyone....enjoyed all the thoughts here.

    After 25 years in nursing I can truly say there are many things much worse than death. I look at death as the final stage of life in this dimension.

    I appreciated my father's hospice nurse greatly...she was such a helpful and calming presence to my entire family. As a nurse, some of my most satisfying experiences have been in hospice type situations...providing support and caring to an entire family.
    Last edit by mattsmom81 on May 7, '02
  10. by   judy ann
    Some of the strangest looks I have gotten from my cohorts have been when I made the statement "I find it a priviledge to attend a death" Even those who are in LTC think that is "spooky". I'm glad to hear that others feel the same way. The only way I can discribe the feeling that I get is to compare it to the feeling I have at the birth of a baby. My friend says that birth and death are two ends of the same spectrum. To me, both are a miracle, and a priviledge to attend.
  11. by   micro
    Originally posted by mattsmom81
    After 25 years in nursing I can truly say there are many things much worse than death. I look at death as the final stage of life in this dimension.........

    thought your statement was very much worth the requote to me at least, so i quote your posts are always wise and well thought out.......


    postin out to #999:zzzzz
  12. by   nursejws
    I'm just a student, but I have witnessed the death of my Dad and my Grandmother just six months apart. I didn't know my Dad was ill until he'd been in the hospital for almost 2 months. I'm very close with my parents, so if we're not talking to one another or exchanging emails, something is wrong!

    For weeks I had been telling my husband something wasn't right. Finally, one day at work, I called the nursing home where my Grandmother usually stayed when my parents would go out of town for the weekend. She had alzheimers, so they would let her stay at the nursing home, which she thought was the "O" club. Anyway, I called the kitchen manager to see what was going on. My Dad and I have the same name, so it startles people some times when I introduce myself. She told me my Grandmother did not get admitted this time and hesitated on telling me the truth. I persisted that she did, then she told me my Dad had cancer and had been in the hospital in Denver. I jumped up out of my chair and ran out the door trying NOT to let the dry heaves get the best of me. Obviously I could not work the rest of the day and after I told my office mate what happened she told me to go home and get the rest of the story.

    I called each and every one of my siblings DEMANDING to know wth was going on! Finally my Mother calls me and tells me "I didn't want you to worry...blah, blah, blah". I later found out that those who knew what was going on were forbidden to tell me anything, which only pissed me off more. Even though he's my biological Father and Dad, he's their Dad too.

    I did make a surprised visit to see my Dad while he was going through his treatments. I had 24hrs to decide about this trip...thanks to, I was able to afford the ticket. My sister and I were going a week later, but I was returning to school so I had to act fast. She ended up spoiling the surprise as she felt like she was being left out WITHOUT hearing the WHOLE story.

    One of my brothers lives in Denver so I stayed with them and they would drop me off at the hospital early in the morning and pick me up later in the evening. With the radiation and this other experimental test that turned him GREEN he slept alot! I did get one whole day with him by myself. We went to Mass and then he went to confession(I didn't think he'd ever return. =) ) It was during this time he asked me to stop smoking.

    He was responding to treatment very well and I was feeling confident that he was going to beat this. Then one Sunday night I get an urgent phone call from my brother in Denver. It didn't look good and I was advised to get to Denver STAT! Couldn't get a flight out that night, got the first one in the morning. My poor Mother was so worn out, she had bronchitis, wasn't eating, nothing. When I saw my Dad I couldn't believe it...he had all these wires and hoses everywhere. His heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to explode. They had him tied down to the bed and he was sedated. He always had one of us at his side. I'm sure the nurses in the ICU weren't too happy about it at times but they were as accomodating as they could be.

    To make the longer story short...he passed away after being in the hospital for about a week. Everyday he made baby steps to improve but did not wake up and had diffilculty breathing on his own. My Mother made the decision to take him off the support as his wishes were, "give me a try and if I don't respond, let me go". About 4 hours off the support, me holding his right hand, Mom holding his left hand, he took his last breath. He didn't die of cancer, he died from pneumonia. His oncology Dr. had a CT scan done before he was removed from support and the tumors in his head were not visible. They had once equaled a quarter of his brain.

    I miss him like hell and it still hurts. My parents were soul mates, who had reunited just 6 yrs prior after having been divorced for 15yrs. 7 of the 8 children had been there at one time during that week. It was during this time I met one of his other daughters from a previous marriage. My Dad had 3 girls (including me) and it is said the 3 of us look alike.

    Six months after my Dad passed away, and right after my Mom moved from NE to OK, my Grandma passed away. The eery thing is the that my Grandma lost her husband and Mother in the same year too. I hope history does not repeat itself, I will not be able to handle it. My Grandma died the week before my vacation where I was to be visiting with her. Once again, we were always in her room so she was never alone. The first night we got there, I stayed in her room with her, holding her hand and my Mom slept in my truck downstairs with her cat and dog. Luckily the next day we got a hotel room and the cat and the dog were boarded at the local vet. The day my vacation started, right as we were heading to my Moms, my husband was admitted to the hospital. I cried when he was discharged and I parked in our parking space because he came home unlike my Dad and Grandma. I miss my Grandma...she was one tough cookie!

    Thanks for letting me vent. I have been needing to get this off of my chest for some time as it still hurts. I get upset just thinking about the plans my parents had...they had bought an RV and were going to start traveling. At 31, and the baby of the family, it's hard seeing and realizing that your parents are getting older. I NEVER saw my Mom age as much as she has in the last 2 years. Words cannot express how I will feel, or what will happen when I lose my Mother. I know death is a natural process, or should be, but she is my rock! I think I was 5 or 6 when my Great-Grandmother passed away, but she told my Mom that I would be the one to take care of her...and I intend to do just that. Social security does not provide very well for my Mother. After all she has done for me, and continues to do, she can have whatever she wants. She doesn't ask! So when I've got some cash to spare, I tell her to save it for HERSELF for one of those rainy days.

    Again, thanks for letting me talk about this.
  13. by   Agnus
    Thank you for your story. It is seldom I read post with the rapted attention that I read yours. You have given us the the other side of the picture. It is hard to know how families see these things and to really know what they go through. Bless you.