Bizarre Reactions to Death - page 3

I was trying to think of a gentle, positive, and non-offensive way to start this thread, but... it's true. I've witnessed some really bizarre reactions to patient's deaths: by family, by staff, by... Read More

  1. by   LasVegasRN
    LPNtoBSN - that is not strange. I wouldn't be able to stand, let alone breath if one of my parents died unexpectedly.
  2. by   LilgirlRN
    We see a lot of what we term "wall-rolling". Backing up to the wall crying and then facing the wall and crying and so on. There was a patient that recently died in the ER, large Catholic family, they all came and the priest gave last rites. Then all of them gathered around the stretcher and held hands and prayed for their fallen father. Was quite touching, by the time they did this, the priest had them all calmed down and no one was crying. One by one they said goodbye to the patriarch and then left. They were all at peace with his passing. Our hospital is surrounded by LTC facilities and of course if one of their patients is in bad shape, we're the closest place. We often have lil old people come in that are dying and all their family lives elsewhere. If we have someone that we are allowing to die without intervention, I will ofetn sit with them and hold their hand, I wouldn't want to die alone.
  3. by   ktwlpn
    I have seen most -if not all of it,too....Something that really bothers me now in out LTC facility is these family members that visit once in a blue moon-show no interest in holding their dying loved one's hand but when they get the call they want to hold an impromptu viewing in the room....Last time it happened a resident's son came in after she was down in the morgue and insisted on going down there...That is the last place I would want to see my loved one....just as bad up in the room -we are on a dementia unit and it is so upsetting to the room-mates (no private rooms....) Someone needs to get some balls when calling these families and discourage this-even if you are cremating your loved one the funeral home will let you see them.....Yrs ago when I worked med surg I had a 90 some yr old woman die(took her several days) Her husband was with her-he says that the children are coming and can we wait to take her to the morgue? Mean time the roomie-one day post-op TAH is sitting in the lounge with her husband,,,,So we wait...and wait...and wait-children start arriving-8 of them-but the 9th was several hours away...The roomie's husband approaches me in the hall-near some of the other patients children-naturally he and his wife would like to know when the viewing will be over because she is in pain ans needs to rest-without a dead body in the room(the Inn was full-no other room available on any unit) Next thing I know fists are flying-the younger husband got into it with one of the dead woeman's children-next thing I know they all jump in....It was awful...we had to call security to break it up...What a mess- that was the FIRST time I lost it and cried in the bathroom at work........
  4. by   ctyler98
    "If we have someone that we are allowing to die without intervention, I will ofetn sit with them and hold their hand, I wouldn't want to die alone."

    LilgirlRN, That is one of the best posts I have read in a long time!! To me that is what Nursing is all about! Keep up the good work!!!
  5. by   hapeewendy
    if I have a dying patient and the family is not around I always try to be around , to hold their hands and tell them that its okay to go, that they are loved... sometimes its hard to be there to see someone breathe that last breath but one of my biggest fears in life is dying alone... that would be terrible...
    now on to the weirdness:
    had a patient pass away and the family came in with a digital camera and it was an inpromptu photo shoot complete with the deceased being posed in various ways , family at the bedside beside her... I'm extremely openminded but even that messed me up for the shift... I thought I wouldnt wanna be the one developing those shots! ah well at least they didnt try to stand her up and what not..that would have backfired severely..

    to each his or her own ,but if any of my family tries to take my picture after I've passed on you better believe I'll be doing some "devine" intervention to make sure those pics get lost in the shuffle and NEVER see the light of day!
  6. by   Flo1216
    We once had an elderly lady(DNR) pass away while the family was present and the family was hysterical, throwing themselves on the floor, having chest pain, passing out. It was quite the scene. But that is not the strange part. I actually expect that and understand it. What was odd, was that like, 5 minutes later they were all in the coffee shop, eating and laughing. What was even odder was that the family had already said their goodbyes and left and post-mortem care had been done. We were just awaiting escort to take her to the morgue. Well she was in the room closest to the entrance to ICU and some of the family members actually came back and before we could stop them went into the room and unzipped the bag and stared at this old woman's naked body for a few seconds and left. It was bizarre.
  7. by   Flo1216
    My father's wake resulted in fisticuffs. My great- uncle spit on my mother and my grandparents blamed my mother for his death(he committed suicide-no one knows why) and eventually several fistfights broke out. To this day there is still bad blood between both sides of the family. Also, family members from my father's side actually looted when they came to our house, " Can I have this"? Can I have this? And just took whatever they wanted.Meanwhile my mother was suddenly a young widow with 2 small children to raise ,not to mention the fact that she was the one who found my father dead.
    Last edit by Flo1216 on Dec 18, '02
  8. by   LasVegasRN
    My gosh, Flo!!
  9. by   Flo1216
    It's OK. I was really little. It was a LONG time ago. 1978.
  10. by   maureeno
    no matter how much or long expected, death always comes as a shock.
    no matter how prepared I am always surprised; something is so enormous about the great divide. Emily Dickinson wrote [as I remember it]
    in this brief life that lasts but an hour, how much--how little,is within our power.
  11. by   mare-mare
    I'll never forget working on the medical floor as a CNA (lots o' deaths) and this family was sitting with the mother, waiting for her to die. Death was coming soon and everyone kept checking on them to see if they were ok... when I get this call at the nurses station "can someone come down and answer a question for us?" Sure, I trot on down and head into the room, go in the door and everybody just turns and stares at me, "We think she's gone" That's more than just a simple question!! I was expecting something like visiting hours or pets in the rooms. Not being a RN yet my response was "oh.... ok" VERY, VERY akward!!
    But, been around a lot of deaths and I've found that no one person reacts the same.
  12. by   JoyfulNurse
    Originally posted by deespoohbear
    Anyone remember the original "Vacation" movie with Chevy Chase? Where they strapped the dead aunt in a lawn chair onto the top of the station wagon? Maybe this family wanted to do the same thing.....:chuckle


    I was thinking the exact same thing. Up on top of the station wagon still clutching her purse, then dumped in the backyard!

    Great One!

  13. by   JeannieM
    This is a fascinating thread! Actually, one of the most bizarre reactions to death was my own, when my mother died suddenly, but not completely unexpectedly, of an MI. I was in graduate school at the time, and I received the call one morning a week before finals. My response:
    1. I called my sister and informed her (she lives over a thousand miles away).
    2. I e-mailed all of my professors and my study group, asking them to get me notes for the classes I might miss.
    3. I called my husband at work. He came home and helped me pack.
    4. I drove to the town where she had died, arranged the funeral, saw a lawyer to help clear up the estate, assumed executor role, and with my sister, who was pretty upset, and our families, sorted through Mom's house and possessions. (We get along great; there wasn't any fighting over Mom's things).
    5. I finished up what had to be done, went back, only missed one class and took finals.
    Six months later, I unexpectedly burst into tears in the middle of a Walmart when I saw something Mom would have loved to have. I'm sure that at the time everyone thought I was the most cold-blooded daughter they'd ever seen. I have no idea what happened; I just went into auto-pilot. I couldn't even cry at the funeral!
    So bizarre responses to death? Families themselves probably couldn't explain them. I know I couldn't explain my own. JeannieM