First death

  1. Well, I had my first death to contend with on Monday. I went to work at 7p, was passing my pills and when I got to this lady's door, I heard her talking. Now, it wasn't that she was really talking, but I heard her voice, but couldn't understand what she was saying, so I peeked in and I saw her foot twitch a bit, so I thought she was dreaming (the curtain was pulled and I could only see her foot at this time).
    when I finished drawing up her insulin, I took her medicine and went in to her. I found her completely unresponsive and her coloring was a gray, ashy look. She had deep abdominal breathing with periods of apnea in between. Not long periods, but enough that you notice.
    I went and got the other nurse who was on duty with me, and she came and told me that the lady, my patient was breathing her last breaths...but she said to go call the doctor and let him know. By the time I came from calling the answering service, the other nurse told me that my patient was gone. She passed at 8:50p that night.
    It was quite a shock to witness, I'll admit, but I htink I handled it alright.
    I called her family, couldn't get ahold of them, so I called the funeral home about 11p to come and get her body.
    Her son returned my phone call at 1:20a.
    I hated telling him that his mother had passed away 4 hours before.
    Such a sad, sad situation......:stone
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    About GPatty, BSN, RN

    Joined: Aug '01; Posts: 3,725; Likes: 459


  3. by   canoehead
    Sounds like a rough night. The first death is always hard.
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    UGH a bad week for many of us. I feel for you. It NEVER gets never is "ok" as long as you care. All I can offer. That and a HUG! Hang in there. I am with you on this.
  5. by   ShandyLynnRN
    Smiling is right, it never gets easy. I worked Skilled Nursing for 2 years, and handled many respite care patients, and other DNR's. In fact, there were only 2 Codes in the 2 years I was there. I always liked to see how the family pulled together, most of the time, and enjoyed being able to make their last day/minute/moment comfortable and peaceful.
  6. by   sjoe
    Sounds like a relatively pleasant passing for your patient. That is always a good sign, IMHO. May we all go as gently.
  7. by   emily_mom
    That first death is always hard. The first one I witnessed was my Mom's... It doesn't get any easier after that, believe it or not. Even if I don't know them at all, it's so hard not to feel for the family. You've shared something very difficult with them.

  8. by   Tweety
    I always have a hard time with the family. Being in charge a lot I have to tell the family frequently in the middle of the night. Usually, it goes well.

    Glad to hear you're o.k.
  9. by   tattooednursie
    The first death I have ever expirianced was at age 14, I responded with my fire crew to a medical call, and it was some one who I had known. It was so hard fo me, and she was too young to die . . . 39. My second death I expirianced just recently with the fire department, and it was a close friend of mine . . . she had died in a vehicle accident. My first death working in the LTC was also very hard.

    I promised this man that I would come to visit with him in 2 hours (he wasnt mine for the night, but I enjoyed visiting with him) 2 hours went by, and I didnt come back. I was tied up in my own little world on the other hall. . . 2 more hours I had fond out that he had died.

    Deaths can be a hard thing to deal with . . . don't pent up your emotins! Thats the worst thing to do . . . If you need to cry, then you shoud cry. I'm glad your first death didnt scare you out of the nursing field.
    Its good to vent about things like this.
  10. by   live4today
    Awwww Julielpn (((((((hugs))))))) :kiss The first time a nurse has to deal with one of her patients dying is indeed quite sad. I always feel sad for the patient's family members no matter how many times a patient dies on me, but losing that first one for whatever reason is hard. I remember mine as if it happened today.
  11. by   bigred
    The first death is the hardest; I am in full agreement with the others. I have been nursing for over 25 years, and I can tell you that it does not get easier. Some deaths I have experienced were peaceful like the one you experienced. Some deaths were anything but peaceful. Sometimes family are with the person, sometimes it is the nursing staff. I feel that these experiences with death help me to cope with life. A very wise person told me after his sister in law died suddenly "It's sad, and I will miss her, but life is for the living, and the living carry on".
    I think you handled your first death very well, Julielpn. All the best to you in all you do.
  12. by   sjoe
    For me, it DID get easier, but different people have different experiences.

    The only times death has been a problem for me has been when the person has gone through days, months, even years of pointless suffering and/or being helpless, unable to communicate (or begging us to let them die), in a coma, etc.

    And then the problem has been the fact that we in healthcare have needlessly extended dying, rather than extending a life with some quality. We have forced death to come too late. THAT is a problem IMHO, and one that your patient was fortunately spared.
  13. by   mario_ragucci
    jULIE . I admire our use of the english language and enjoy sharing your experience because you can communicate well. Every cell has the potential for apoptosis, right? It's really the missing of the person and how abrupt it can come on when you see an actual natural body shutdown. Apoptosis is a natural born killer.
    Some deaths might break me up, but I all ready experienced my two most feared deaths (guess?). Seeing a patient/anyone die is as hard as it comes. Having seen one of my parents death makes all others pale in comparision to that sort of, personal, emotion. Again, all living cells do eventually die, and it makes the present more prescous [preh-shoosh]

    (Mario stands shaking an angry fist at Mother Nature and Father Time
    Last edit by mario_ragucci on Dec 4, '02
  14. by   Tookie
    No it isnt easy but as you reflect on your care and think about the impact your care made - this may be only a little smile or a big impact - your care will have enhanced the person's life - and that is what nursing is about.
    tak a big breath - think OK that is one hurdle l have survivied - Now to conitue to make impressions on people lives for the best - this may mean that they die it may - mean that go home You will always know that you have don thebest that you can do.