Witnessed a terrible death last night--pls help me... - page 9

I think I just need to write. I am freaking out. As a new nurse, I expected to have to deal with death. And especially with the population I'm working with, who are mostly cancer patients in crisis.... Read More

  1. by   RN29414
    It is okay to cry. When I worked in the PICU I cried with every death. I cried with every dressing change along with my burn patients. I cried when kids got sicker and when they were well enough to go home. It is okay to cry and I can tell you that families appreciate it.

  2. by   SandraJean
    I think watching patients die of lung CA is one of the worst things to see. I'm sorry you are hurting. I wish you peace.
  3. by   FranEMTnurse
    I was with my grandmother when she died. Nobody in the family wanted the job. We brought her home from the hospital, I placed her in my bed. Then when she fell asleep, I went to the pharmacy and purchased a tank of oxygen cepacol lozenges for her sore throat, and lots and lots of pudding. She loved it, and she said it soothed her sore throat.
    She was a natural musician in her earlier days, so I recorded some songs she played on her harmonica, accompanied by a friend's violin. After the tape was made, I put it away.
    When the time came I played it for her. She thought she was listening to a radio, and she said she loved it. I told her it was her playing her harmonica. She just smiled.
    I bathed her daily, changed her ostomy, and changed her underclothing.

    I slept on the couch in the livingroom right around the corner.

    I awakened one night around 4 AM, hearing her cough. I went to her, and she asked for some Vicks 44 cough syrup to quiet her cough. After that, she quieted down, but I didn't like the way she was breathing, so I asked her if she felt she needed some oxygen. She said she didn't think so, but I put it on her anyway, then I said I was going to lay down on the floor by the side of her bed in case she needed more care. That made her feel good, and we said goodnight to one another. About 10 minutes later, I didn't hear anything, so I got up, and saw Grandma was leaving this world. I got in bed beside her, and held her in my arms until she stopped breathing.

    Today, I have a good feeling about that, because when I was a tiny 3 lb, very anemic baby, it was Grandma who I'm sure gave me back my life. Those types of babies were mostly not named, and were buried those days.

    So my hat's off to you dear Grandma. I look forward to seeing you again one day.

  4. by   coolpeach
    I am not a nurse yet, but begin the nursing program on Aug 25, 2008. I have seen people die, and been present when they passed (my aunt, and grandma). I watched my grandpa linger for months in the VA with lung cancer, but wasn't present when he actually passed.

    I took a class called end of life issues a couple of semesters ago which focused on this very topic. We had to come to terms with our own death. We roled played telling the loved ones the bad news, talking to the patient about making the tough decisions etc. I really think the class helped me prepare, but we will see how well I hold up when the time comes.

    In response to the pain killers. I have often heard people say things like "You don't want to give too much pain killer because it could cause them to pass". I remember with my grandma we were told that when they gave her the morphine there was a really good chance that she would pass within a couple of hours.

    If I have some sort of chronic life ending disease and I AM going to die then I want to be made comfortable. It's not a matter of IF the patient is going to die...they are going to die. It's really not even a matter of when because once they are to that point you know its going to be a short time. It's more a matter of do you want them in unbearable agony during that short time. I personally want to be sky high, and if it helps me to pass on a couple of hours early then god bless you.
  5. by   Acosmo27
    Im still a student but I just had a rotation at hospice. I asked the nurses how they deal with so much death and heartbreak around them, and something the nurse said will stick with me forever. She said, "you have to remember its their pain and their tragedy... not yours." I dont know why, but for some reason that statement really hit me.
  6. by   JustJen
    I worked an Oncology floor and was very happy helping my dear patients and their families deal with end of life issues....until I had to witness my own Mother's death as a result of lung cancer. After that, I found that I needed to switch floors because I was re-living mom's death night and night with my patients. Maybe you need to look at another area of nursing while you are still grieving your loved one.

    P.S. As another person said, their is no rule against crying. I have cried with many of my families and patients. You develop close connections with many of them.

  7. by   Otessa
    I remember the first time I provided post-mortem care in the nursing home setting as a CNA in a nursing home setting. I also remember the LPN who knew I was scared to touch a dead person and how she walked me through it and ask any questions that I had.

    Does your floor have a debriefing after deaths? One place I worked had the oncology nurses have a bi-weekly meeting to "talk it out" because of all of the deaths that occurred.

    Crying is a release-you are human. I learned that it was OK to be strong AND also cry when someone you cared for as their nurse and they died. I have had family members actually appreciate the emotions.

  8. by   iluvivt
    Does your employer have an EAP program where you can go and talk with a counselor? I consider it an honor to help families through this,even though it can be very stressful,you have to be very calm and reassuring and stay focused (which you did). I always tell myself they are lucky to have me help them through this and then I do everything possible to ease the patient and family through the death.
  9. by   purpil29
    it is hard everytime you see a hard death but the first does stay with you. your fellow nurses may have seemed to have good poker faces but ill bet they each have atleast one that is always with them. this is not a bad thing it just means you care deeply and that is a good thing. my first hard death was also a lung cancer pt and i gave everything i could ms q15m ativan gel and scop patches she kept holding on and the suffering was horrible! i was fairly new and was at my wits end b/c nothing was working to ease her pain. she had no family so staff rotated so she was never alone. a hospice nurse was in the facility for another resident and saw me about to break down in the med room. she talked to me as if i were the family and told me to just sit down next to her and hold her hand and tell her its ok now. i must admit i thought sure this will help.. but , i did it and my sweet pt seemed to just grin at me and she passed away. i was not happy about her death but very happy she was no longer suffering and i think i helped. i was very very grateful to that wonderful hospice nurse. however, i will never forget my pt and you wont either but you will get stronger and you will help many others during your career. i have no doubt you will be one of the great ones!!!
  10. by   MrsMommaRN
    :icon_hug::icon_hug::icon_hug:I hope you are starting to feel better. There have been so many words of wisdom here I have nothing to add.
  11. by   leemacaz
    Quote from Annebug
    Tweety, I hear you, and thanks for your message.

    Maybe the horrific grimace on her face was O2 deprivation and not anxiety, but she was grasping weakly at her daughter's hand, and I could almost make out "oh god" at times along with all that terrible gurgling.

    ATIVAN--yes indeed. I wasn't her primary nurse and I don't know if there was an order for ativan, but that would have worked I think.

    How do you resolve the euthanasia issue though, when giving morphine and ativan to someone whose sats are like 40%?
    From a perspective by a possiblr future patient and one who has had several family members whose passinf was not far from your experiencelet me say:
    I do not consider the relief of pain as using Euthanasia...we do not care if adequate pain meds seem to hasten death....AND why on earth would ya want aloved one to suffer extra hours and more so than if they did not get pain relief??? Well I can tell ya I Don't!
    I am not advocating murder..but do not let the little comfort and pain relief you can bring to a patient who is dying anyway make you think you are euthanising them. Letting them suffer is cruel and in
    humane...I am not advocating putting people down like is done for pets...But I sure think that whatever dose of meds is needed to stop pain...and maybe lessen anxiety over approaching death is what ough to be done...and the provider of such relief an angel of mercy..not one of death....
    You are obviously a very sensitive person.(HUGS).....I hope thigs get easier for you.