Death work and talking to the dead - page 2

Four years ago I started a thread in the Neuro ICU nurses' forum about nurses speaking to the brain dead (you can view it here). I researched the topic for a Masters, and found the process really... Read More

  1. by   BlueRidgeHomeRN
    don't feel foolish, inge. did it all the time in hospice.

    (the inside joke was to go stand on a chair with a flashlight and utter the magic words.....go to the light...if a pt was dangling on the edge of moving on.)
  2. by   Jo Dirt
    I sometimes wonder if my phobia of looking at dead people came when I saw my uncle in his casket when I was a child.

    I used to stew and stew over it, I've done a lot of looking into evidence of life after death. I've looked at NDEs, ADCs...and I can't find any reason to think that when our bodies die we move into another form of life.

    When you're dead, you're dead.
  3. by   ExpatHopeful
    It depends really. If it's a patient that I have known somewhat well I will talk to them while prepping them, saying things that I normally would while washing a patient (oh, your hands are swollen, let's wash your feet now...etc). I think it's to help me say goodbye to them in a way and reaffirm that I cared about them I suppose. If it's a patient that I didn't have any contact with before they died then I don't talk to them usually although I might talk to myself. The room can feel really silent with just you and a body, especially at night if the ward is quiet.

    I think I tend to get left to do the prep myself a lot because many of the nurses I work with are not comfortable with dead people or are afraid of them and it's not something that bothers me at all. On that note, I have to disagree with BlueRidgeHomeRN that discomfort with the dead is linked to a belief that there is no afterlife, at least for everyone. I believe that there is nothing after death, the person just ceases to be, but I'm quite comfortable with the dead.

    As far as interesting practices go I suppose that I work with quite a few Phillipina nurses and most of them will open a window in the room as soon as they can. I've been told by one that they believe the soul has to get out of the room after death in this way.
  4. by   BlueRidgeHomeRN
    Quote from expathopeful
    on that note, i have to disagree with blueridgehomern that discomfort with the dead is linked to a belief that there is no afterlife, at least for everyone. i believe that there is nothing after death, the person just ceases to be, but i'm quite comfortable with the dead.
    .

    actually, that was not a general comment but directed at a specific poster and based on additional prior input..
  5. by   leslie :-D
    Quote from ExpatHopeful
    It depends really. If it's a patient that I have known somewhat well I will talk to them while prepping them, saying things that I normally would while washing a patient (oh, your hands are swollen, let's wash your feet now...etc). I think it's to help me say goodbye to them in a way and reaffirm that I cared about them I suppose.
    i guess i'm not understanding if you believe in nothingness after death, why talk to them?
    yes, i know you stated it's your way of saying good-bye, but still...
    doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you believe you're talking to 'nothing'.

    i'm a huge believer in 'afterlife', other realms/dimension...
    somewhere where our spirits/energies travel to.
    so of course, i talk to everyone who has died, the same as i talked to them when alive...
    except, i don't ask questions.
    heh.

    leslie
  6. by   nurse4kds91
    This is an interesting thread you have started. I have always believed that my patients (children) can hear me even if they are brain dead or even after cardiac death. I believe their spirit stays with them until their parents are ready to let their body go and then they go home with their parents to watch over them. I have an experience with the death of 3 little girls in a tragic accident. It will haunt me forever. The death of children has never bothered me a lot as I believe it is a part of life no matter your age. We are all here for a purpose and some of us get our job done quicker than others. I was doing post-mortem care and talking to the oldest girl as I always do. As I was across the room, alone, a cap from an IV dropped off the bed onto the floor. It may have been close to the edge, who knows but I was sure she was with me listening to my soft banter while I talked to her about how her family will miss her.
  7. by   Sadie525
    Hi,

    I work in hospice and I have done this before death (coma state) and after they have died. Before death; I believe and according to some text that the hearing is the last to go. I also have this thing about patients dying alone, I hate too see that; I guess it's my way of reassuring my pt that someone is with them.
    The after death issue: I talk to them because I believe that the soul is still near by. I have experienced times when I thought I could feel the person standing next to me. Or if I was very close to the patient a feeling of loss would consume me. So I'd talk to ease my own grief.
    On the other hand;
    I had this one patient that I tried and tried to comfort no matter what I did he would become angry and violent too. Finally he began to transition, I followed all comfort and safety measures, and kept eye on him constantly without trying to annoy him. The day before he past, I was doing rounds and went in his room, to find him struggling for breath, He had taken off his oxygen, I adjusted his head reapplied nasal canula and cleared his airway, he recovered and was breathing much better. I touched his hand and told him I would be here if he need anything else....he place his other hand on mine and he looked up so weak, so frail and said; GO TO HELL.
    So there was no singing or chatting for this one.
  8. by   MaryAnn_RN
    I have had some experiences of people dying, some good, some not so good. Once I looked after a lovely lady who was dying and knew it, but never complained. When she passed the whole bay smelled very strongly of flowers, it was truly beautiful.

    I have written before about the man who was dying and was tormented with fear, nothing we did helped him, and when I eventually left the bedside I saw a black 'thing' very tall, standing by the bed and looking down at the patient. It scared the pants off me, and to this day I believe that was something evil
  9. by   talaxandra
    Quote from Sadie525
    I touched his hand and told him I would be here if he need anything else....he place his other hand on mine and he looked up so weak, so frail and said; GO TO HELL.
    :chuckle And I was all set for a Damascus-type conversion of character!
  10. by   dreamers
    I talk to the dying...to ease their fears, their pain. I also say good bye to them if I am present when they die. But, I don't talk to the brain dead, to me they are gone, the body is only a shell laying in the bed.
  11. by   belle3672
    As a Hospice nurse I talk to the dying and the dead. We educate many family's that hearing is the last sense to go. And encourage family member to speak to their loved ones in calm soft voices. After a patient is deceased I often find myself speaking to them, more often "in my head" then verbally. I am unsure as to why I do this. As a hospice nurse I have seen some amazing and unbeliveable things happen.

    One of the last deaths I was present for the patient past away peacfully at home, 5 family members present and all sleeping in other rooms. I was about to leave the patient's room and inform the family member when I open the door. All 5 family member had been woken in their sleep, none could explain by what. They came into the room and held hands. The patient's daughter said "Mom we love you and we hope you know we always will." At that moment the house phone rang and 3 of the family members cell phones rang. The number was 000-000-0000 no one was there, on any of the phones. The family and myself had only one explaination. The patient was calling from heaven to tell us she had arrived.

    If someone told me this story before I was a hospice nurse I do not know if I would believe them. Now I know anything is possible. Thanks for letting me share.
  12. by   Gigglesforall
    I talk to the dying, not the dead. After they've died, I say a a little prayer (inside my head) wishing their spirit well and free from suffering. During post-mortem care though, I move them just as gently as I would had they still been alive. And I always keep a gown on them once they are zipped up, just for dignity purposes. I have been told by a few RNs not to, as we won't get the gowns back from the funeral home, but I still think it's appropriate.
  13. by   nerdtonurse?
    I often pray (silently) as I do body prep, and the other nurses laugh at me because we'll have the person turned and be cleaning any last stool and they'll look up and I'm patting the person and telling them, "it's okay, she'll be done in a minute" just like I do the living.

    The one thing I can't get over is that heavy "thunk" as the body goes into the cadaver transporter.

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