How do you cope with death?

Nurses General Nursing


I am a nursing student at Fitchburg State, and i have a research paper to do. we had to pick a subculture, so i picked nursing. And i need to answer a question that i must research. My question is how do you, as nurses, cope with death? How do you get passed people/patients dying? If you could give me a few answers, that would be great! Thank You,



20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

welllllll as a member of a "subculture" being NURSING, I cope with death the same way I do as a member of the human race at large (being the "big culture" I guess?)

I seek a spiritual understanding of death/dying, am constantly trying to learn and understand more; I also realize it is part of life.

I believe very simply we never die spiritually; just our bodies undergo "death". I believe We (our soul selves), chose this path on earth on the Other side and when we "die", we return to the Other side to be with our Lord and loved ones who await our return with great joy. There is no pain, no suffering on the Other Side and we take with us all these lessons we (hopefully) learned here on earth while "alive".

You see, death is not an event (to the person going thru it anyhow), to me, but more a rite of passage of sorts, a passing from one plane to another. From one dimension to another...It part of a long continuum of an everlasting life. Death is not to be feared in and of itself, although HOW I may go does give me pause to think at times. I am human and I do have fears, like anyone. Anyhow....

This is how I cope with death as a person and as a nurse. It keeps me going and in a way, I look forward to this passage when my time is come.

Hope this helps.;)

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,541 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

Basically, I feel death is a part of life. To live is to die. It's my job to both do what I can to ease it's passage, or to institute preventative measures to prevent it.

I'm not of the "God has a better place for this person...." or "God's not done with this person yet....." school of thinking. In fact, I don't think God has anything to do with it. We are one minute closer to our death each and every moment. If God has a plan, it's the same for all of us, just the timing is different.

Not to say that death isn't tragic for those of us left behind. It absolutely is. That's where I run into a bit of trouble, where I get emotional is sharing the death of my patient with loved ones.

It warms my heart sometimes to see love of the people left behind for their loved one. If that makes any sense. A life well lived leaves behind people who love you. As corny as that sounds, that's eternal and lives on and on as each generation is touch by the love of the one left behind. Now I'm babbling.


1,245 Posts

I beleive summed it up very nicely. This is also just about how I feel although when I was younger I never beleived anyone else felt this way. I thought that all the people touting organized religion were way off in their thinking.

Erin RN

396 Posts

I agree with BOTH of the previous posters. I feel that death is merely part of the circle of life..we are born, we live, we happens to everyone. I also believe tho that we transition into another place..I am not involved in organized religion but I feel that death (and life) have a spiritual component to it. This is not to say I haven't been sad to watch people pass....sometimes I thought, "Thank goodness" like when I worked Oncology and had watched someone suffer for weeks on end..other times I was angry "How unfair" like when it was child or a young person in the ER. I have seen many people pass away and with some I did cry (usually on the way home) and with some it is not that I didn't care, but it really didn't effect me all that much. I think that is another coping mechanism..removing yourself from it. If I cried for ALL of them I would have nothing leftover for me and my family. That probably sounds selfish but I see it as self preservation. It does become part of the job..I almost think that when I did cry for one I cried for all ..kind of like a fill it little by little and then blam it spills..then you can start over. Erin

I agree with the others. Death is a very hard thing for me to deal with when my patient is expected to go. Sometimes I cry in front of the families, sometimes I cry inside. I try to make someone's last days my first priority in basic cares. For example, I brush their hair, make sure their dentures are clean, put soft mattresses under them, give them enough water or juice.

I try to talk to the families and understand the life of the patient and help them to transition to the envitable loss of their loved one that they now have to say goodbye to. I try to treat everyone like they are my family members because all of my family live 800+ miles away and I would want them to be treated in a dignified, respectful, caring manner.


72 Posts

i say a little prayer for the family and the person that passed...hope the person is in a happier state...and you go on.


386 Posts

I cope with death with belief,the belief that death is not the end of everything.

Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

I feel the best way to cope with death is to do a lot of soul-searching on how you, the caregiver views death. Once you have come to terms with your own beliefs, it makes it easier to deal with it.

That doesn't mean you don't feel a bit sad at someone's passing, or for the loved ones left behind, but it gives you something to fall back on for the strength needed to get through it.

Personally, I think, like many other do: death is just one more chapter, one more rite of passage in life.

I hope you dont mind me sounding a bit long here goes

I dont think that coping with death necessarily has to just be nurses. Before I decided to become a nurse, I just finished a tour in the US Army this past June 2003. I saw lots of deaths and different types, accidents to inentional. I feel, that the person coping should not think of how they themselves are, but in fact the person who is dying is the most important at that moment and time, not me. You see the person who is suffering, will reflect what they see in your face in how you speak to them and how you react to them, and to many times we as individuals lose sight at what is really important....we have to comfort those suffering so that way, when it is time for them, so that they feel that its okay to let go, and not be so afraid ...

of course thats just my opinion, but its based on my life experiences... :stone


36 Posts

The way I deal with death, depends very much on the situation, but always in the end, I pray.


225 Posts

I see death as part of the life cycle, and believe (ideally) that death and birth are meant to be natural unmedical experiences. I care for hospice patients at home while studying for my RN. Often, I work fulltime for a patient for months or even as long as one year. When they finally pass on, I usually attend their funeral services as a final goodbye.

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