I had an amazing experience today.


  • Specializes in Pediatric Psychiatry, Home Health VNA.

This morning I went into work after being off and found I would be caring for a patient who had just become care and comfort. He suffered for a long time with cancer and very slowly deteriorated at our hospital. His son and daughter were with him most of the day and around 1 I went in with another nursing assistant to change him, turn him and give mouth care. The daughter went for a walk and the son waited outside. His breathing had been labored and rapid throughout the day despite a morphine drip, and as we turned the patient the nursing assistant began humming "Eagle's Wings" to him. I joined in singing and just as we finished the comfort rounds his breathing changed dramatically, as if he finally relaxed, and I had a gut feeling he was about to pass away. I ran out to his son and told him to please come back because I didn't think it would be much longer. This was a surprise to him because he had just become comfort measures. Just as the son reached the bedside he took his last breath and passed away.

I cannot stop thinking about this. I've cared for many end-of-life patients but this experience touched me so deeply. I've never had that gut feeling before, and I'm so glad that his son made it to the bedside just in time because he really wanted to be there for his dad in his last moments. I feel so humbled and grateful.

Hands and Heart

217 Posts

Your story brought tears to my eyes. Your and the nursing assistance being able to calm the patient in his final moments was very kind. And your recognition of what was about to happen and getting the son there in time was wonderfully intuitive. Such a sweet story. Thanks for sharing. :nurse:


328 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric Psychiatry, Home Health VNA.

Thank you so much. I truly feel like we gave him the okay he needed to finally let go. He was such a fighter and his children loved him more than anything so I wonder if hearing their voices around him kept him holding on. Even in their final hours, people constantly amaze me.

It really is a story only fellow nurses can relate to. I told my fiance and he told me he always knew my singing was going to do someone in!

Hands and Heart

217 Posts

It really is a story only fellow nurses can relate to. I told my fiance and he told me he always knew my singing was going to do someone in!



564 Posts

Specializes in ICU, PACU, Cath Lab.

What a great story!!!

FWIW...my singing would have done the poor guy in...sounds like you must have sounded like an angel to him!

Specializes in ER; HBOT- lots others. Has 27 years experience.

totally gave me the chills! that is awesome. that is great that you got to do that for someone else! you will never know i am sure how great you really are for that experience!



507 Posts

Specializes in orthopaedics. Has 2 years experience.

i love that song. i truly truly beleive that some patients just need a little nudge to go to the light. what you did for him is wonderful . bless you:nurse:


237 Posts

Beautiful story. I don't know what it is about that song but things happen. At my father-in-law's burial, we were singing this song when one of his children alerted all of us and pointed to the sky. There flying around all of us was an eagle-which in our area of the state is uncommon. The song brings tears to my eyes everytime I hear it. Good job on sending him "home". The two of you were angelic today!

casi, ASN, RN

2,063 Posts

Specializes in LTC. Has 3 years experience.

Thanks for sharing. That brough tears to my eyes.

Specializes in Trauma/Burn ICU, Neuro ICU.

A wonderful hospice nurse told me that, sometimes, people wait until their family has left the room to die. And by golly, if my beloved auntie didn't go and do that when we were outside the room for just a few minutes.

Very sweet story. Thanks for sharing it.

Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatrics, Wound Care. Has 11 years experience.

My grandmother's passing via home hospice care 1.5 years ago is why I decided to pursue nursing (I'll start classes in the Spring). My grandmother waited a few days for my aunt and I to arrive before passing away. We had about one day with her (unresponsive), when she took her last breath in the presence of the family (and some of her favorite musicians on the stereo).

I'd like to help other families have such a positive experience at such an emotional time.

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