How do you deal with seeing a dead body? - page 2

I am 30 years old and I have never seen a dead human being. Ever. I know I will be seeing a corpse during my LPN training and of course will be when I become a nurse, but this aspect of... Read More

  1. by   crissrn27
    I too feel like the body is just a shell. That didn't stop me from freaking out the first time or two. It is something you have never dealt with before and it will take some time to get used to it. My first code was the worst. Everyone left me alone to do postmortem care and I felt like just running out of there! I got though it and the next was easier.

    DeLysh: I am so sorry about your baby. I work in the nursery now and I can't imagine there is anything worse to have to survive. That mom was lucky to have you caring for her baby, you really understood what she was going though.
  2. by   lizzyberry
    Quote from TazziRN
    What is it that scares you about it?

    Don't think of it as a dead body but as the old vessel of the soul that has departed. The body is not the essence of the person that lived.
    I love the way you put that. That also makes me feel better.
  3. by   OgopogoLPN
    I don't know what scares me about it. I think I would be OK if it were an elderly person who died peacefully in their sleep, but I just don't know.

    I guess I'll find out how I deal with it when it happens, but I'm not looking forward to it. Especially if it's a child or baby .
  4. by   arelius
    Just remember to have respect. What I mean is if it was your dead body there in front of you (God forbid), how would you want the body handled? I assume you would want it to be done properly. Death is part of life so just continue proper care knowing that you are doing the right thing.
  5. by   TazziRN
    Quote from Ogopogo
    I don't know what scares me about it. I think I would be OK if it were an elderly person who died peacefully in their sleep, but I just don't know.

    I guess I'll find out how I deal with it when it happens, but I'm not looking forward to it. Especially if it's a child or baby .

    Most of us are impacted when it's a child. You grieve and you treat the body with the love that any adult feels for a child, and you go on.
  6. by   HisHands
    If you are going to be an LPN, you will probably end up working in some form of long term care. I will never forget my first death. I had been a nurse for about 6 months, and I had already grown very attached to my patients. I had one extremely vivacious patient we will call "Erma". Well, then Erma stopped walking.... and eventually stopped eating.... and finally stopped talking. I loved her like my own grandmother. She was such a delightful woman. One day I knew my girl was going downhill fast. The next AM she started moddling. I set my day up so that I could sit at her bedside as much as possible. I was with her for her very last breath. I heard her heart beat for the very last time. I watched her finally be in peace after a long hard battle. I felt relieved, sad and joyful all at once. She was my girl, but she was finally in His arms. I felt so blessed to have been there while she passed. To me, it wasn't a "dead body". It was doing a final service to someone who had become a dear friend.

    Hope this is insightful.
  7. by   medicrnohio
    I was terrified the first time I had to handle a dead body as an EMT. The police were there and the family was screaming and crying. It was a horrible experience.

    It has gotten easier to deal with dead bodies since then. I find it peaceful to know that these people have gone on to a better place. I do however think it is very important to respect the body. I also do not like patients in the hospital to die alone. I will go in the room and hold the hand of a dying patient and talk to them and let them know it is okay to go. I would hope that if I were in the hospital no one would let me die alone. Obviously there are times when it just happens but there are many times when we know death is imminent.
  8. by   Kiwimid
    DeLySh, what a moving post, im training to be a midwife and i have four children of my own and the thought of having to do what you did use to scare me, but then I realised that these special souls are the hearts of these mothers like mine are, and how privalidged i will be when it is my time to help a family heal by taking the best possible care of these little souls, bless you for sharing
  9. by   LPNJessi
    I have done post mortem care too many times to count. I have also been theer for my CNA's when they do it for the first time. Just remeber to treat the body with respect and you should be okay. Also the body will be warm to cold depneding on how long the person has been dead and will be yellow pale in color. But it is an amazing exprience that one has to experience to appreciate.
  10. by   Gennaver
    Quote from Ogopogo
    I am 30 years old and I have never seen a dead human being. Ever.

    Any words of wisdom for me?

    It's really been weighing on my mind lately.

    Firstly, try to calm down, realize that it is normal to be unsure and nervous about something unknown to you.

    Secondly, do not go alone and do not go with a jokester who is out to "show" you anything. It is always nice to have help and to give help with this care.

    Thirdly, remember that this expired patient is still a patient and deserves the same respect and care post-mortem as prior.

    I wish you luck and believe that you will be fine. We all get through this, you sound perfectly "normal" to me.
  11. by   styRN
    Circle of life.

    I've always just accepted death and the dead body as an organic, biological process.
  12. by   colleennurse
    The few times that I have had to do post mortem care I just ensure that the pt is treated with utmost respect. My dad passed away before I became a nurse and when I am doing post mortem care, I think of my dad and how I hope he was treated when they did his post mortem care. He passed in a hospital and when we got the call and went and saw him, I was so appreciative of how the nurses made him look peaceful. That is part of why I wanted to be a nurse.
    I had a pt pass a few weeks ago right in front of my eyes, he was a DNR. After we cleaned him up (removed all his lines and such) the family came and I was able to tell them that I was with him when he passed, I hope in my heart that it comforted them somehow. I know that a dead body sounds scary, but I try to think of it that I have the power to make sure that person is being treated with respect during some of thier final care.

    DeLySh - Your post made me cry. It sounds like you are going to be a very compassionate and empathetic nurse from what you have experienced in your own life. It is great that you can use these experiences from nursing to help yourself heal.
  13. by   time4meRN
    It's just a fear of the un-known. Just take it as it comes. I think you'll find it's not as bad as what you picture. Usually there is so much going on as far as family, paperwork etc.. that the actual look of the body will be second hand. For me it gives me comfort to care for the body, treat it with respect and prepare it for the family so that they may have some comfort. Many times in ER and ICU we need to leave tubes etc in, it can leave the body very shocking looking at least from the family's prespective. We do little things like putting a warm blanket over the pt, leaving one hand out for the family, clean sheet, pillow, dim lighting, monitors off, privacy etc.. If it comes the time that you have a difficult time dealing with this , talk to someone. (EAP, pastor etc. ) Best wishes to you.