How Nurses Cope with Death

Published

I received a comment on one of the articles I wrote from a new nurse telling me she is dealing with death in her workplace and is having a hard time. She wanted to know how I – and other pediatric nurses – keep from burning out. As I began to ponder this question, I decided to take this question to a social media site and ask my fellow pediatric nurses how they keep on keeping on (credit is given to each nurse's comments, quoted with permission).

Specializes in pediatrics, occupational health. Has 6 years experience.

How Nurses Cope with Death

Working with death may be an inevitable part of a nursing career, depending on what area your focus is. Learning how to cope and manage death seems to vary from department to department. Please feel free to add to this and help your fellow nurses understand your take on dealing with a death in your work area.

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"At the end of a rough day, I call my mom. I talk to her the whole way home. She's cheaper than a therapist. My husband is slowly learning how to just listen without trying to fix, but he just can't handle tears, so I call Mom or my older sister instead. Keeping in touch with friends is also important, and making work friends to lean on in rough work situations is just as important. No one is going to better understand what you're going through like the guys and gals who are in the trenches with you. Bubble baths, wine, all those are nice, but I find human interaction to be what keeps me grounded and sane. After talking it out, if needed, I'll go for a run. And on days off, enjoying the sun and surf, a good book, whatever makes you smile."

Sylvia Nielsen, DNP, ARNP, CPNP-AC. Nemours Children's Clinic, Jacksonville, FL. ENT/Head and Neck Surgery/Complex Airways Division.

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"The way that I manage: I have been truly blessed to work with some of the most hardworking, caring, compassionate, smart, and empathetic individuals on earth, who truly give their all to save the lives of critically ill and sometimes dying children. Sometimes we're are successful, sometimes we are not... but every time we are there for each other - to lean on, talk to, cry with, learn from, etc. I would be nowhere today without the guidance, skills, knowledge, love, and compassion that I've received from my colleagues over the years, and that I have passed on to others. They have made a profound difference in my career and in my life that I will never forget. Sometimes, we do all we can, work our tails to the bone, go 12 hours without eating, etc., and even then it may not be enough to send a baby home with its parents. But, at the end of the day, we still have each other. That's what gets me by."

Jay Hunter, DNP, RN, CPNP-AC, CCRN, CPEN, CPN. Pediatric Critical Care Nurse Practitioner in PICU and PCCU at University Hospital; Instructor/Clinical Department of Pediatrics, Division of Critical Care at UTHSCSA School of Medicine.

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"At the end of the day I feel it boils down to your colleagues. No one else REALLY understands unless they are also in the medical field. Losing a patient is hard and exhausting physically and emotionally. Not only have you been their nurse for weeks or months, but you have befriended a family. Me, I find peace in praying for the patient, family, my coworkers, and myself. I hold on to my faith that there is something greater after this life. The great thing about nursing is it is a very versatile field. You can go from patient care to sitting behind a desk."

Michelle Flores, RN, CPN. Perianesthesia, hematology/oncology, Driscoll Children's Hospital; Postpartum/antepartum.

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"Distraction and laughter (as long as it's in an appropriate place and time...sometimes it's after I get home. It's comforting to know that my coworkers "get it" even if they don't say anything...it may be a reassuring look, a quick hug, a shoulder rub or a few pieces of chocolate....it somehow makes it easier knowing that they understand. I also tell myself that I'm still helping the situation and/or the people by being there and helping to still care for their child (whether still with us or not)...the care process never really ends...you just have to transition from trying to keep a child alive to now I'm trying to help the family say goodbye and start their grieving process with as much respect and compassion as possible. And of course, lots of exercise lol. Work it all out in the gym!!"

Jenny Collins, BS Exercise Science, RN. PICU Driscoll Children's Hospital.

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"At the end of the day, I never took my work home. I always would put a loss in perspective by remembering all the lives that were saved on a daily basis. The majority of our kids would get better and go home, and it's important to remember that."

Carol S. Kaplan, BSN, RN. Cardio-thoracic surgery. Driscoll Children's Hospital.

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"It's not easy, every department has it's good and bad days. They are not the same. You have to learn to take time, even if it's the 30 minutes for lunch or 5 minutes to take a breather during those heavy days. Try and find an outlet; gym time, walking, talking to fellow nurses who understand what your'e going through, or family, friends who you can just vent to. You've got to have some ME time allowed with no interruptions. I have always believed in the power and have a lot of faith in God. Especially on those emotionally trying days."

Jenny Martinez, RN. Med-Surg, Driscoll Children's Hospital

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"How I handle: no matter how many bad days, how many days I feel like no matter what, it's not enough, or no matter how many shifts I leave tired, hungry, and dehydrated. The days I do make a difference, the day where you see the little child open their eyes finally,

the day the family finally takes them home, or when the family brings them back and you see progress, the time a little one squeezes your hand after being sedated for days, the day where a miracle happens make up for all the other "bad" days. The smallest smile, the smallest "success" story is more than enough to make up for the other days. In the end of the day you DID DO something and the smallest glimmer of joy in bad is all worth it. Having family and co worker support helps too. And breaks from work. Sunshine, wine, and vacations. No matter how sad or hard I'm so THANKFUL and lucky to do what I do."

Haley Troell, BSN, RN. PICU Dell Children's Hospital.

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"I simply tell myself God has given this knowledge to help people. Everything else is in His hands. I do the best I can, I cry and lean on my work family when needed."

Karen Martinez, BSN, RN. Emergency Department, Driscoll Children's Hospital.

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"Never look for a reason."

Teresa Ercan, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN. Emergency Department, Driscoll Children's Hospital.

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"Nursing is a double-edged sword that pierces through our compassionate hearts. We love our patients with our entire being. We advocate for them, we comfort them, we heal them, we hold them. When you know your patient's favorite cartoon character, color, snack, siblings' names, their stuffed dog's name, and what they call their grandparents--you become part of their extended family while they are in the hospital. A majority of these kids improve and get to go home. Your heart pangs with joy when you transfer them to the floor, knowing that everything will be okay. You hug their mom and tell her to stay strong because their journey to home isn't quite over yet, but you know it will have a happy ending.

Then there are those that don't ever make it home. Your heart hurts when you hear the physician tell the parents there is nothing left to do. As you see the child on life support undergo a brain death test without any response, your heart sinks but you blink back the tears before their family sees. When you bathe the patient you've cared for over several months with his mom for the last time and she asks to put his toe tag on, your heart shatters into a million pieces. You feel as if you are losing a family member of your own, but you have no time to grieve because you have to be strong for their families. You will probably get a new patient before your shift is over and you don't want them to see your tear stained face and wonder if their own fate is grim.

How do you cope? How do you not burn out from the surge of emotions that bombard you each and every shift? It's simple. You remember that you made a positive impact on that child and family. You remember the mom who thanked you for always trying to soothe her baby by singing to her and patting her instead of giving her medication to put her into a drug induced sleep. You remember the scared teenager that asked you to pray with them because they didn't want to burden their sleeping mother in the middle of the night. You remember the toddler in DHS custody that you held tight to your chest and rocked, who calmed down and smiled at you as they finally felt safe and peacefully drifted off to sleep. You remember the difference you have made in every patient's life. Even if the outcome wasn't what you had hoped and prayed for, know that you had a positive impact on that patient and their family through your care and compassion. Let that give you peace for today and encouragement to wake up and do it all over again tomorrow."

Candace Mayle, DNP, APRN, CPNP-AC. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in the Department of Pediatrics.

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"This may sound callous, but as an ER nurse, I felt it was selfish to get too emotional about the horrid things we see. In most cases, the families are strangers to us and there is a difference between being caring and compassionate towards them and making it all about yourself by breaking down. It serves no purpose to the grieving family. That doesn't mean there weren't times I would get home from work and just want to drink a glass of wine in quiet, but I had to build an emotional wall for my sake and that of my patients and coworkers."

Elissa C. Norris, RN, CPEN. Pediatric Emergency Department and School Nurse.

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"I keep a scrapbook of all the "kudos" that I get from patients as well as from supervisors. I have also taken pictures of flowers that patients have given me. I put those in the scrapbook as well. And on bad days, when I wonder why I do what I do, I pull that out and read all the notes. On my floor we don't deal with such high acuity. So I never actually come in contact with dealing with death. I really don't know how I would handle that."

Dawn N. Tollett, BSN, RN

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"I agree with Elissa Norris. You are the tool that the family uses to get through the crisis, but it is not your crisis. It is theirs. It is sometimes selfish to internalize it and make it yours. I think you see the grieving and cannot help but be sad for the hurt a human suffers, but it is important to know this is not your burden."

Julie Browning, BSN, RN, CPEN. Pediatric Emergency Department, Driscoll Children's Hospital.

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"To show emotion is compassion. By definition, compassion is the emotion that one feels in response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. It does not mean that you are unprofessional, or weak, or selfish."

Jenny Collins, BS Exercise Science, RN. PICU Driscoll Children's Hospital.

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"To blubber on with a patient's family and then to internalize it and take it home with you is the fast train to burn out, which is what we are talking about. To shed a tear knowing that sadness has happened to another human, is to keep in touch with our humanity. You can show compassion without joining the family in the grieving process. I think the nursing scenario is different. If you have time to step back and properly grieve with a family, then wow, what a lovely time schedule you have, but it makes it difficult to go to room 8 with a mvc if you are shook up about what happened in room 1."

Julie Browning, BSN, RN, CPEN. Pediatric Emergency Department, Driscoll Children's Hospital.

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"I really love this discussion! I think that is what makes nursing such a great field, no one situation is able to be handled by every nurse, and there is a nurse who has the personality for every situation."

Julie D. Reyes, DNP, RN, CPNP-AC.

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"As a nurse, it's important to find a way or ways to cope through emotions. We have the opportunity for all types of growth in our field and that's what makes it awesome! Death is guaranteed to be part of the package and it's great that our experienced nurses step up to show our new nurses how adaptation is possible through their examples. This is how new nurses will find their own path and be successful and to hopefully avoid burn out while standing by our families, patients, and fellow staff during the best and worst of times. It's a rollercoaster of emotions some shifts, but strong nurses are built and molded each day!" Monica Cantu Martinez, BSN, RN. SWAT (Special Work Assignment Team [i.e., POOL]), Driscoll Children's Hospital.

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"This discussion of your article started me thinking. I was an oncology nurse for 6 years and suffered horrible burnout to the point where I no longer wanted to be a nurse. There are plenty of studies about oncology nurses. Changing into management and then into ER has been a fascinating road and I was reading about burnout in nursing and the impact on the nurses home life, job satisfaction and etc.

I know the ER nurses handle everything different, every minute is someone coming into the ER with a family crisis, a forced injury, abuse, assaults, a death, a near death. PICU environment is so far away from the ER spectrum. Two patients instead of 4 or 5, time to prepare for patients and know what is coming in, not a shocking surprise of a blue baby being handed to them. Does the PICU nurse have a grieving pattern that the ER nurse does not? Do they have time to collect themselves, etc? Perhaps that is the difference.

The ER environment may not allow time to be attached or even be involved for long periods. We have seen some horrible things that never arrive to PICU, and we have arrived some things that we never know the ending of because they go to PICU. Does the environment matter? There is no time for grieving three or four times for the things we see in a single shift. In fact, if a nurse did get sad of all the things she saw in the ER, I would think she would have a short career in ER medicine. PICU nurse holds the hand of a patient for 3 days or longer. A bond is there.

I don't want you to think that the ER nurses are a group of unfeeling robot nurses who are uncaring. We will not sit and grieve with a patient's family. We will show compassion. I probably see about 4 hard sad things in a shift. The child abuse rate alone is so high, how can we not? But my professional side is to stabilize them and get them to the place where they can heal, not to solve them, cure them and place a bow on their head. We see 60+ patients in a shift most days. If I am caught up in a grieving process, how can I continue my shift and the next two shifts?

I think the type of nursing is the key, the environment and the expectations. Can compassion be shown, yes. Does it have to be my emotional breakdown? No. Can I go to work knowing that this crisis is not my crisis. Yes. That keeps us healthy. You asked the question about "losing a patient" as if you had the power to keep that patient or it was a quest you "lost", that statement alone shows ownership and therefore you own the grief with that, but I believe that to be unhealthy. At least in my environment."

Julie Browning, BSN, RN, CPEN. Pediatric Emergency Department, Driscoll Children's Hospital.

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"Thank you for elaborating on this. Like I said in my original post, this was from an ER [nurse] perspective and not meant to be a criticism of how other nurses handle themselves. I will say that in the ER it is not fair to your coworkers if they have to take on your 4-5 rooms as well as their own if you are having a breakdown. Nor is it fair to the other patient for you to be crying in their room because of something happening in another room. One can lose their sanity and respect of their peers (in the ER) if unable to control your emotions in a professional manner."

Elissa Norris, RN, CPEN. Pediatric Emergency Department and School Nurse.

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"I can completely agree with y'all. It definitely depends on the environment and where you are working. ER nurses take a very special nurse. Some of the toughest. There is not time to bond like there is in PICU and / or other areas. That doesn't mean you lack compassion or are cold; it's what you are dealt. You could have two codes back to back; you can't be thinking of the previous one in the middle of the 2nd. I used to love that about going to the ER. Less attachment, more nursing. But now that I have worked in PICU for over a year, it's different. One's not better over the other, just different environments like you said. We have had patients in house for months. Not getting attached to them is impossible. Or the ones that come back time and time again. You begin to know the families, they begin to request you. Just different.

You sometimes do have the time to sit with families and be with them if your 1:1 patient just died...everyone has their own way of dealing and this new nurse will find theirs. ER isn't for everyone and either is PICU. I find it hard to not get attached but I can also realize it's not always the best decision to get attached. As long as you know you did everything that you could from a nursing perspective. It's important to be thankful that you have the ability and knowledge to help at all.

PICU can end up being long term care and ER is not. That's the beauty of an ER and why it takes such bad *** nurse.

There is no right or wrong answer here, but after 3.5 years as a SWAT nurse, you see how every department has a common trait in their nurses. Everyone copes differently, everyone see trauma differently. We may get some crazy unstable awful abuse admission in the PICU but we can't forget where they started. Thanks ER nurses!"

Haley Troell, BSN, RN. PICU Dell Children's Hospital.

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In summary, I have also noticed that every unit nurse has a very different personality. ED nurses compared to ICU nurses, compared to oncology nurses, compared to med/surg nurses, etc. Each department seems to have a very unique personality and coping mechanism. Which leads me to truly believe that is one of the awesome characteristics of the nursing profession - if there is an area that is not for one nurse, that nurse has so many other options to explore where they can fit right in and feel comfortable.

I would like to know how other nurses across the world and in different areas of practice cope with death and care for their own needs. New nurses out there will find great benefits from our experiences and may save them many hours of sleepless nights. There are no right or wrong answers - just personal experiences that share insight and wisdom from battles and lessons hard fought and won.

Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

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20 Comment(s)

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Thank you for this EXCELLENT article!

What a great inside look of those poignant moments that nurses experience at the end of a patient's life. No matter the age, it is always something we must deal with, however the loss of a young life can be overwhelming.

Thanks to all who shared their coping mechanisms.

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 29 years experience.

This is a difficult subject that you handled with grace and dignity.

As nurses we are often witness to some very tragic moments and we all cope with this differently.

The commonality is that we come back to work tomorrow. Thanks

armymalenurse

Specializes in MED-SURG Certified. Has 8 years experience.

This is one of the saddest part of what we do as nurses. We interact with patients with the insight that death is always a possibility. On a past post, I commented about establishing a boundary for yourself and I also added that this is hard to do because we are human beings with emotion and bonds that are felt when severed. I do not think we should not empathize with patients but we should allow ourselves to grieve (i.e. talking to family members, reflect quietly by yourself or with others, etc). I have worked in the ER of a Combat Support Hospital in Iraq and even the hardiest soldiers I've worked with still needed that hug at the end of a shift.

Thank you for sharing other people's experiences and ways to cope with death.

Edited by armymalenurse
missed a word

Lunah, MSN, RN

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN. Has 13 years experience.

I have shed tears with family members because sometimes I can't help that, and I have shed tears while caring for a couple of patients while deployed whose family members were just as bad off, when I knew they wouldn't make it. But as in the original post, I have built walls to make it through until later, because it just isn't about me.

And yes, we have to keep going for the rest of the shift and come back again! We are stronger than we realize.

Edited by Pixie.RN
Typo!

I worked geriatrics for a couple years and losing patients was hard but the sudden illness and death of a co-worker has been the hardest for me to cope with. It has been over a couple months and I am still grieving, quietly and mostly late at night when all are asleep. Thank you for the article it has helped me.

NotReady4PrimeTime, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PCVICU and peds oncology. Has 25 years experience.

As a PICU nurse for mre than 17 years, I've witnessed my share of children's deaths. It never gets any easier but I think I've become better at managing my own feelings. I have close friends who are also nurses who truly get me when I talk to them about it all. They feel the same level of anger that I do when something senseless and preventable happens. They know my behaviour and know when I'm not coping well. They make sure I'm okay. I also find solace in physical endeavors like digging up my whole garden and replanting it in order to work through things. Or walking for miles in the cold to see if there are geese on the lake - and to clear my head. Hobbies have saved many minds.

Our unit just had 7 deaths in 7 days and we're all feeling a little shell-shocked. We only had 26 deaths for all of 2014, so this has really been a rough time. We have a large population of new grads who may be experiencing death for the first time and I worry about them. I hope they know that there will always be someone they can talk to and someone who will support them without trying to fix them. They need only look around.

northshore08

Specializes in Emergency, outpatient.

I so appreciated this article! I left ED nursing in 2012 after 27 years, and now am orienting as a hospice nurse. Next month I join the peds hospice side. In all my years of ED nursing I felt like the ED nurses that posted in the article, that if I internalized the grief and pain I saw, that made it about me and not about caring for and supporting patients and families. Now I find that on the hospice side, you really are closer to the family dynamic and grieve with them for their loss, not so much for the passing of the patient. I'm busy watching the hospice teams support each other and seeing how they work with the families. The peds team meetings are full of tears and support; I am grateful for the peds nurses in the article sharing their experience. Thanks!

#1) Understand yourself and your beliefs about death and dying. If your not comfortable with the subject, explore it!

#2) NEVER tell the family members that you understand what they are going through...unless you have actually experienced the same thing!

#3) Just BE there. No need for your opinions or very much verbalization. Just knowing that someone cares enough to listen and tend to the "little" things is a great help.

#4) If you are asked to pray with the family...DO IT, even if you are not the "praying type".

#5) Leave it at the door when you head home. This is the hardest one I think and is not meant in a callous way. You have to protect your heart so you are able to share it with the next family that needs you!

NotReady4PrimeTime, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PCVICU and peds oncology. Has 25 years experience.

Things have not leveled off on our unit. We've had 3 more deaths since I last posted. Even the very experienced of us are feeling it. Some of our losses have been high-profile which adds to the distress. Our new director of critical care nursing made the effort to acknowledge our struggles and to praise us for our dedication and professionalism. She mentioned moral distress, the first time anyone from upper management has done so, for which I give her points. Our administration bought us lunch yesterday in an effort to recognize how difficult these last two weeks have been. I wish I could say we're due for a reprieve but I know we're not.

explorereb96, ADN, BSN

Specializes in Pediatrics Telemetry CCU ICU. Has 34 years experience.

Well, working in a Pediatric Ventilator sub-acute facility for the past 19 years I can honestly say that it has to do with acceptance. My very first pediatric death I took to heart. I took it very hard for many reasons other than it was my first. It was a home care client of mine. 'Johnny' (not his real name) was born with his heart, part of his aorta and some of his lungs outside of his chest cavity. He wasn't supposed to survive. His stay in the NICU was long but at 14 months, he was finally coming home. Trach, vent, O2..everything needed for this little guy... including 24 hour nursing. 'Johnny' had his ups and downs and ins and outs of the hospital as with all medically fragile children but he thrived. He learned to crawl and stand and enjoyed his life even though he was not very mobile because of the equipment. (There were no real portable ventilators at that time). One day 'Johnny' got sick. It looked like we were heading for pneumonia. We caught this early. So ABTs, increased nebs etc (you know the drill i'm sure). 7 days of prednisolone. i come from the days where every one was ALWAYS titrated down from Prednisone. 'Johnny' had been on it for 5 days and was getting better. That day, i was called and the agency begged me to work. I had been working another case and had last saw 'Johnny' on the previous weekend. the agency informed me that 'Dad' was finally going back to work after being home with 'Johnny' for the past 2 years. Mom had a good job and dad (who was great) stayed home. Dad finally felt comfortable enough to leave for work while 'Johnny' was cared for by the nurses. I said that I would work, but I wanted another day off sometime that week because after all that day was my birthday. I was working almost 7 days a week and sometimes double shifts. I wanted to take my birthday off but since 'Johnny' was one of my favorite cases, I went. Mom was already at work, and off Dad went. The cutie and I (and the 2 big dobermans) were by ourselves. I sat down and went over the notes and got comfortable with what was going on. My eye spotted the Prednisone, 'Johnny' was not titrated from it. It was literally just stopped 2 days prior. it bothered me and when his primary nurse called in I gave her a heads up. She stated, "oh they don't do that anymore for kids that are on for such a short time." She had years of experience on me so I was like, ok. Not one hour into the shift, my sweet 'Johnny' was watching TV and sitting nicely playing with toys. His body arched backward and he turned blue. His vent started alarming so I thought that he had a trach plug. I tried suctioning and to my horror, I could not get the catheter past a certain point. It certainly did not feel like ANY plug I've ever encountered. I went for the emergency trach. With one hand hitting the button on the speaker phone for 911 and the other removing and trying to replace the old trach with a new one. Nope not going in. There was something blocking it. Ok....step down trach...(smaller diameter).... I'm talking to the 911 dispatcher and working like mad at the same time. He's turning bluer by the moment. I'm yelling....what is the ETA...I need someone now...."they should be at the door in a couple of minutes. The step down trach, nope. I grabbed the supply drawer with one of his rubber urine catheters in it lubed it up tried it....nope. I lubed up a suction catheter to try to get that in at least...anything with a darn lumen, nope... nothing. All this time 'Johnny" is arching his back and having a seizure which he has no history of. The Paramedics were there. Ran down his history, and what had occurred. i will NEVER accept an order to just stop ANYONE's Prednisone ever again. This child died from intractable edema of his airways. His airways were so edematous, that it didn't matter what I put in his upper airway, nothing was going to get through. His PE was thorough. His seizure activity was so intense that his tracheal muscle was in sustained contraction which was bad enough. I was devastated. i wanted to not only leave pediatrics, i wanted nothing to do with nursing. i vowed that this was my first and it would be my last pediatric death. Mom and Dad were very thankful for all that I did. They said they were just thankful that they were able to have him as long as they did. They said that they would be so disappointed if I left nursing or pediatrics. They made me want to try again. I'm glad I did. I can be nothing else. Nurse defines me. It's been my life for so long. People ask me how do I handle it. If not me, then who? i don't do it for money (it helps but there is plenty of other jobs to do for money), i do it because I care. And that day I cared that I was the last face that 'Johnny' saw and that he knew he was with someone that loved him.

AngryAngel

Specializes in Emergency, Correctional, Indigent Health. Has 43 years experience.

Death is inevitable, just as are taxes are, said Benjamin Franklin. Yet we as nurses deal with this reality as no one else does. Often Doctors, and other healthcare providers don't deal with the mechanics, and the emotions involved with holding the hand of a dying person whose family may not even be there.

I cried with one young patient who died squeezing my hand when his Hodgkin's Disease finally choked him to death weeks after he refused a trach. His Mom bolted from the bedside, unable to see him die. Then His Dad ripped his own hand from his dying son's grip and ran to be with his wife, who was falling apart. Only I was still there watching him choke to death. I grabbed his now empty hand and growled we were all still here with him. He clutched my hand with a real death grip. Then just relaxed as he gave up the ghost.

I reassured his parents. Left the room to confront his siblings at the door. Then I found the most private place I could on the ward. In the med room I cried like a baby. I am still tearing up now some 39 years later.

Death will almost always be a part of who we are as nurses. Fortunately life is the better part of what we do. Even my time in Obstetrics had its touch of death. There is no easy way of dealing with it. Places particularly touched by death, Burn Units, Oncology, ICU, ER, Hospice, and other areas I might not even be aware of, are often listed with only brief tours of duty compared with other areas of nursing like Primary Care etc.

I read somewhere that the Burn Units in particular often see a turn over of nursing personnel in as little as 6 months. The truth being if YOU can't deal with it "get out." Why? Because "burn out" is a serious thing, both physically and emotionally. Getting away from it before you burn out is a healthy thing. Stress has some incredible consequences, including your health and your relationships.

Nursing is a jewel of a profession, but your life and your loves are even more important in the scheme of things then your profession. When you are doing something you like or even love you are a truly a happy individual. If you are not happy, move on. One great thing about Nursing is it has so many niches. Trust me, you will find your place.

I did Emergency Medical Services and the ER for over 20 years. It was what has made me as happy as I feel about my life. I am not rich, but I am rich in experience I would never give up or take away. As nurses we are often immersed in a co-dependent personality that makes us even seek out this profession. We need to help people to be who we want to be as an adult person. It will probably never make us rich as Finance or Business, but can you imagine yourself in a suit, or God forbid, a tie, day in, and day out.

Be what you want to be, but be happy in what you do. Death is a part of life. Someone has to deal with it on a frequent basis. If you can't, no matter, there are other areas where you can be who you want to be as a nurse. However, if you can deal with it, and accept it, know that those who loose a loved one will be so glad you are there to be with them, and you will know so much more about who YOU are as a person and nurse.

Edited by tnbutterfly