Expectations after your patient dies?

  1. I have been taking care of a patient in private duty since Feb. '07. She died and the funeral is tomorrow.

    I don't believe in funerals. I don't want a funeral for myself when I die and I don't go to funerals now.

    The other nurses I worked with taking care of this patient plan to go to the funeral. I have no money to send flowers but I got a sympathy card to give to the family and was going to leave it at the funeral home.

    Does this sound appropriate? I know some nurses who have said there comes a time when it is time to end the relationship and when a person dies the nurses need to step out of the picture, but I feel like this was different, since we worked with the patient on such a personal basis.
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    13 Comments

  3. by   jill48
    you don't have to go. especially if you don't believe in it. personally, i have been to a few patients' funerals, but that was by my choice and had nothing to do with my employer. i wouldn't even worry about it if i were you.
  4. by   olol765
    Can I ask why you don't believe in funerals?? U don't have to answer...I'm just curious.
  5. by   GingerSue
    yes, a card is appropriate

    that is what I have done when a private duty client died

    (I also don't believe in funerals, don't want one for myself, and this is
    after attending several family members' funeral "gatherings" which turned out to be situations where "guests" or the "speaker" made insensitive or inappropriate-meaningless remarks etc. - then I decided "never again")
  6. by   SK-222
    Everyone deals with death in the their own way. My view of attending a funeral or memorial service is *not* for the deceased, but a way of showing support for the immediate family and those who knew the deceased best. Even then, just seeing pictures and hearing people talk about a person I may have not know so well will cause my eyes to leak.

    IMO, I would rather a person throw a big get together for me while I'm alive to enjoy, not spend a fortune when I'm gone and not meaningful to me.
    I have mixed feelings about funerals/memorials. I think the funeral homes charge way too much. It seems rather crass to buy a casket with beautiful finished wood, silky pretty this and that when a pinebox would do. I'd rather have a big fancy comfortable bed to enjoy while I'm alive and appreciating it. Once passing from this life, my body is mere useless flesh (though I have made my intentions of organ donation clear to family).

    Expectations? Did you know the family at all? If not, they may not notice whether you are there are not, though just being there as a moral supporter if you had a few hours of time on the day of the service would be the kosher thing to do, but certainly not a necessary expectation.
  7. by   rn/writer
    Believing in or wanting a funeral for yourself is a private matter. Attending someone else's funeral is a separate issue. They are not necessarily incompatible. Going to another person's viewing or funeral is not akin to putting your stamp of approval on the practice itself. It merely says that you cared about the departed individual and want to recognize both their life and their loss.

    You don't have to go to the whole funeral to demonstrate the fact that you cared for this person. You can pay your respects at the viewing/wake and not stay to attend the service itself. I often do that when I want to indicate that this person meant something to me, but the whole ceremony seems too much.

    If you send a card, you might want to personalize it with your own thoughts and condolences. This kind of caring gesture rarely goes amiss.

    I know from other posts that you developed an affection for your patient. I'm sorry for your loss.
  8. by   Sisukas
    I've been to one funeral as an adult...my grandfather's...and after I left it I knew that funerals do not give me any sense of closure or comfort. I just ended up in more pain than I was before the service. When my grandmother passes away, I'll go to her funeral in order to support my mom, but that will probably be the last funeral I attend and the rest of my family knows that.
    If you continue to care for private patients, just stay consistent with your non-funeral attending and giving cards. I think it's the kindest thing to do, both for yourself and the family.
  9. by   Jo Dirt
    I do not like to look at dead bodies, I don't want to go to a viewing, I don't want to go to a memorial service. I prefer to remember people as they were when they were alive, even if they were frail and old. I have been doing private duty for years and I have actually had family members of former patients see me in the store or around town and come up to me and flip out pictures of their dead relative in their casket at the funeral. I believe this is tacky and I am totally put off and offended by this.

    I had an elderly neighbor when I was growing up who would not go to funerals, she was in her 90's and all her friends and what was left of her family were dying, she just wouldn't go to the funerals. I never gave much thought to why but I totally understand now.

    The way I see it, funerals are a waste and I don't see how it could bring closure or comfort. When my father died I went to the funeral but when it came time for the viewing I stepped outside because I did not want the last image I had of him to be dead in a casket. When I told this to my sister-in-law she said she wished she had done the same thing I did because the image of him in his casket kept haunting her. I remember my mother sobbing that the only thing that looked "right" were his hands. I feel like I would have been better off not even going to that funeral, but I was only 17 yrs. old at the time.

    Personally, I want to be cremated with my ashes scattered and no service. There's just no need for it. I don't need to be laid up in a casket with people lying about how good I look and then a preacher making up lies about what a wonderful person I was. Dying doesn't induct a person into sainthood. I wrote a note in the sympathy card talking about the good times we had when I took care of her but she could sure be a stinker, too (no, I didn't mention that she called Adult Protective Services when I had been there 24 hours and was told to go home by my supervisor, and that she had been cancelled from several other staffing agencies because of incessant complaints, that she was known to spread gossip about nurses when they weren't there). I still cared about her, naturally, but people are people, when you're gone, you're gone, we are all going to die one day, and that is all there is to it.
    I'm not knocking people who want funerals, but I don't think I should be knocked because I don't go.
    Anyway, I guess I got off track a bit. I guess the funeral homes wouldn't like me too much.
  10. by   Need2Wings
    Mama,
    I completely understand. I coached a high school equestrian team about 9 years ago, my first year coaching my own team one of my girls was involved in an accident with her BF, he died, she lived about another week but was determined to have no brain activity, her parents donated her organs and let her go. I of course was at the funeral home visitation and at the funeral. Her mom told me that her step-dad wouldnt go near the casket and refused to look at her as he had also done at the hospital. I thought it was insensitive of him but later when I would think of her myself the image that came to my mind was that casket with her lying inside. It would take me a while to get past that image to see her beautiful smiling face, she was the sweetest girl and had this amazing angelic smile. It was then that I realized he was only trying to preserve his memories of her as she was live.

    I think the card is appropriate and you do as you feel comfortable with. Keep the memories of special people as they were alive.

    Dana
  11. by   Cattitude
    MM,
    I think that this is a personal issue. I myself want to be cremated and don't want the sad service and all that stuff. Throw a party and be happy, celebrate my life.

    Anyway, I'm in HH and I actually attend probably 95% of my pt's wakes. I usually don't attend theire actual funeral services, the wake is sufficient. I'v usually been with most of them at leat a year so I feel it is necessary for me to show respect to the family. I live in the city that many of my patients are from. I can't imagine running into relatives and not having gone to the wake. But that is just me. Everyone must handle it their own way and there have been occasions when I was unable to attend for whatever reason.

    Your card sounds lovely and I think that sends the message that you cared. That is what's important.
  12. by   traumaRUs
    I too echo Catitude - this is a deeply personal experience and there is no right or wrong - it is what is right for you. Take care as you grieve in your own way.
  13. by   Jabramac
    I think a card is great. Everyone delas with death in a different way, and funerals are not the best means for everyone. I echo others comments that the funeral is for the living. If you had a strong connection with the family it might be more appropriate to attend, but even still, not mandatory.

    [QUOTE=Cattitude;2204932]MM,
    Throw a party and be happy, celebrate my life.

    No to get too off topic here, but I personally love this idea of "celebrating" a persons life, rather then "mouring" the death. Like the idea of an Irish wake. My grandfather's dying wish was for his whole family to go to his local hangout and have dinner and drinks on him after he passed, sort of like an Irish wake. There was a band playing that night, the tavern set a plate of my grandfathers favorite meal and we left a chair open. It ended up being a very meaningfull night where we celebrated his life the way he wanted us to.
  14. by   prowlingMA
    When I was an NA and MA I never went to funerals. I have a little ritual I do at home, light a candle say a prayer. Or I would go into their room after the body was removed and say a pray surrounded by their things. You should do what ever gives you closure with that person.

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