HOW DO you deal with daily sickness or death as a nurse

Nurses General Nursing


I was wondering how do you deal with the sickness and death as a nurse? Is it something you get used to over time or is it something you never get used to.

Specializes in ICU, nutrition.

I don't think I've been in nursing long enough to get used to people dying. I mean, I just haven't had enough of them die yet. But I'll say this about the more "seasoned" nurses I work with: they don't seem to be used to it, but they try not to take it home with them or beat themselves up over the ones that couldn't be saved.

As for dealing with sickness, I'm there to make my patient's feel better. So I try to do what I can to either cure them or at least make them comfortable. Sometimes I have to fight the docs, but I see myself as a patient advocate first and foremost.


18 Posts

I handle it by knowing that all things happen for a reason, be it physical, genetic, environmental, or just being part of a bigger picture we can't see. Some sickness people bring upon themselves through lifestyle (i.e. smoking, alchohol abuse, diet, etc...) and that is sad but it makes some sense. Other times people are in hospital situations through no fault of their own, but I just keep remembering God is in charge! Death is always difficult because you have a family there that is left to pick up the pieces. I try to be an encouragement to those families and deal with it the best I can on my own.



3 Posts

Hi, I am in my last wk of school for LPN but I have worked as a CNA since 1997. I have seen a lot of people die. The 1st time was when I worked in the ER and was 8 mos pregnant and a 3 mo old baby was brought in who died from SIDS. It was so scary because they worked on him for 30 mins. I told them I quit and ran out of there crying. They told me to take off the next day and think about it and give them a call if I changed my mind, which I did. It was really hard seeing that but I realized it is a part of life. I don't think I have or ever will get used to it. I am not sure if anyone does. I am now going to be a nurse and I am so excited. There are some things I don't look forward to and death is one of them.


735 Posts

It's what we do.

People get sick. People die.

We take care of them and get them through their rough time.

It's what we do.



1 Post

Originally posted by Rustyhammer

It's what we do.

People get sick. People die.

We take care of them and get them through their rough time.

It's what we do.


Russell you make it seem so easy! I hope I can cope that well! I will try to look at it that way.


20,964 Posts

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

You do not "get used to it" least I don't think so.......You cope---daily. You embrace whatever strong beliefs/faith you have about sickness and death and use it to help you through. You empower your patients to do this in the way of their choosing, offering help in any way you can...whether this be w/contacting their minister/church/healer of choice or offering access to services that provide bereavement counseling/coping methods.

Death is a fact of life...ours, our patients.....the whole world. IT is one thing we all have in common waiting for us that is inescapable and unites us. Some cope well...others not at all. Some death seems senseless and pointless, some is welcomed and blessed. You deal as appropriate to the situation. At least that's what I do.

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

108 Articles; 9,984 Posts

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

Getting "used to it" isn't really what it's all about; the day I get used to seeing people die without any emotional involvement on my part is the day I quit nursing. A nurse who can't feel is worthless. Rather, we learn how to cope with it and make peace with it........after all, death is not always the enemy, even though our culture tends to fight it tooth and nail, and to deny it its rightful place in the continuum of life.


992 Posts

I don't think you ever "get used" to people dying. If that day comes for me, I will need to seriously look at a career change. I work on a general med-surg floor in a rural community. We see LOTS of adult cancer patients...especially terminal patients who have opted for comfort care only. I don't even think I can tell you how many deaths I have been present but each time I feel a sense of sadness for the family and friends left behind. I try not to take it home with me because if I do I will drive myself crazy. I do what I can for the dying and their families to provide comfort and emotional support. I try to anticipate what the patient and family will need for me to provide to help everyone. With the elderly a lot of times most of them have been ill for a long time, or widowed for a long time and just want to go. If that is the case it isn't so hard for me. What does make it rough is when the family is in total denial or they are fighting like cats & dogs. That can make the whole situation rough. Those situations can be very emotionally draining also...:o:

With sickness it varies for me. If I admit someone who is totally non-compliant with their medical treatment, I don't usually let it bother me. I treat them like I would any other patient with respect and dignity but I don't let them get me dragged down in a pity party for them. The ones my heart really bleeds for are the ones who are trying very hard to be compliant and still they end up in the hospital. Those cases can be hard to handle...

I guess I just know that in nursing people are going to get sick and people are going to die. Some you can't save and some you can. You do the best you can and go on.


735 Posts


I never intended to imply it was easy. I have mourned my patients deaths and have said a quiet "thank you" to the powers that be when someone was released from their suffering.

I cry with families.

I think of people who have died that have influenced me even though I knew them oh so briefly.

No, it's not easy but yet we do this job and we take care of the sick and the dieing and those who have lost someone.

It's what we do.


Specializes in Oncology/Haemetology/HIV.

Illness and death is part of the life continuum. Just as sorrow is necessary for joy to have meaning. Death is the natural end of life.

I try to keep my patient as comfortable as possible and assist them in attain the goals that they seek. And when they die, I know that I was an important part of that essential dying process, just as much as a nurse that assists with birth.


121 Posts

Yes I agree with this being a part of what we do. We help people through some of the most vulnerable times in their lives when they or someone they love is sick and dying. Having a sense of what to say and knowing what needs to be done when the people we are caring for can't see it because they are too close to the problem.

I have this idea in my head about the body being like a cocoon and when we die our spirit is set free. like a butterfly. I see it as the people leaving the tired body and having total freedom of spirit. I have taken care of severely disabled children and this idea kept me able not only to appreciate the spirit I could see in the tiny mis-shapen bodies of these precious ones but after i had grown fond of them not to feel so sad. deb

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