How does death effect you?

Nurses General Nursing


Does it bother you when some one dies on your shift?

I am new to this so ofcourse it does get to me a little bit. It doesnt get to me to the point where I cannot do my work, but it never fails, when some one dies I cry, whether their death was for the better or not. I know that these LTC patients are suffering, and its probably the best thing that can happen to them. I still get sad anyways.

Do you feel being emotional about it is ok. I know that it is good to be strong for the family, but sometimes I can't.

Does anyone else feel this way? :chair:

Or am I just a nut who is too emotional :scrying:




126 Posts

It's hard to deal with patients dying and if you feel the need to cry, then I think it's quite all right to do so. There is nothing wrong with showing your emotions openly. Myself, when a patient dies, I feel for them, some more than others but it's not within me to cry openly. I do make sure that I go to the patient and say my goodbyes to them privately in their room. I have this belief that regardless of the person being dead, they can still hear me somehow. I have never found that it got in the way of my work. Maybe I have a way that I am able to un-attach myself. It's different for everyone and I've never worked with someone for months and months directly to where I may have become really close to them either. I'm sure that the circumstances would be different then.


2 Posts


I cannot think of a time when I didn't get emotional about the death of a patient. Sometimes it is an immediate response and I cry along with the family or it is a delayed response and I cry when I am alone or feel suddenly overwhelmed. I think it is a natural response to grieve and that to try and repress our natural feelings would eventually affect our ability to be empathetic.

cactus wren

295 Posts

I sometimes cry with the family...I sometimes am relieved that the patients suffering is over...after all.they are fine now, all hurts are gone......I try to keep that in mind.....It`s the family left behind that needs our kindness, prayers now.......


126 Posts

I do, always have even if it was peaceful....its only natural...we put so much of ourselves into these people even though we do not know them..every time one dies we lose that little peice our life that went into them...and we mourn for the unique individual that was lost to us...

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

108 Articles; 9,984 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

Mandi: If you ever get to where death doesn't affect you, it's time to get out of nursing and go do something else. I've seen many, many people die during my career, and I still shed a few tears and say a prayer for each soul leaving this world. I am always able to resume my appointed rounds and get on with work, even when the death hits me particularly hard (and there are some that are more difficult to deal with than others). If I was especially close to the patient/resident, I'll attend the funeral or memorial service, and there are a few local families with whom I've stayed in contact, even months or years after their loved one has passed on. Regardless of my feelings about a patient, I've always considered it a privilege and a blessing to be present when a human being takes leave of this earth. So please, Mandi, don't feel you're an "emotional nut"---it's that compassion for your patients that will make you a wonderful nurse!



1,049 Posts

Specializes in midwifery, ophthalmics, general practice.

I have been a nurse for 20 yrs now and still get upset when someone dies. the day I dont is the day I leave this profession. we are a caring profession......and our patients hurt us sometimes even though they dont mean to. so dont feel ashamed of your feelings- they will help you to relate to your patients and if it helps to cry then go ahead... I do!



772 Posts

l have been a nurse 22 years....l work in ER...we get a lot of full arrests....seldom get a good effects me, l don't always get real emotional...unless....the family is present....the harder they take it, the harder it is for me....that wailing greif just sucks my soul out every time!....The younger the patient is, of course the more difficult it is to deal with...we have had several childern die in our ER lately and we don't even have a peds unit...children's hosp just down the road...these are the toughest.......LR


134 Posts

I've been a nurse for 20 years now and have seen a lot as well.

Whenever I have a patient die, and because I work home health and many deaths are unexpected, I find I beat myself up a bit. I try to figure out if I missed some subtle change, or if there was something I could have done to prevent the death. I know that I can rationalize unexpected outcomes, but part of me feels somewhat responsible. Do any of you feel that way too??


258 Posts

As a nurse, I have yet to experience the death of a resident under my care. As an STNA- I have a few times. Regardless of how much better off that resident was, it was still an emotional thing. I've seen wives arrive minutes too late to say goodby, I've comforted kids who were there when their parents passed on. I've supported roommates and friends who have lost a friend. I can generally refain from tears untill I've gone in and done what needs down- but I always take a few minutes in private afterwards to cry, or just sit there quietly. Each time, for each person. My way of dealing, I guess.


20,964 Posts

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

Being as I work in OB I can say without reservation or doubt that YES!!!!! it bothers the HECK out of me when someone dies on my shift. It is rare, but tragic nonetheless. Usually infant/fetal deaths......altho we did have a mom die once of complications of severe PIH/DIC quite a while ago. It was awful--she was in ICU but to hear she had died made us all sick.

But the death I remember most was of a patient assigned to me way back in nursing school, COPD'r. OMG she suffered so......I felt sick and sad when I learned she died after I went off. I asked if she was alone (no family ever came around) and they said NO. That really helped, somehow.

Yes---- death sometimes bothers me in some cases in general, not just on the job, BUT my belief system allows that death is a passing on to much better things, and the soul is everlasting. This sure helps me deal w/death and dying in a position not of fear or loathing, but seeking greater understanding.


112 Posts


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