I am sure this is a silly question but I am truly curious.


Are their any rules about nurses crying? Like not if they see you shed a tear once you are fired, but is their anything that addresses this?? I was talking with a friend today about how easily I tear up now. I never used to be this way, shoot I don't cry at weddings, not even my own. I giggled over some family and my husband tearing up. I usually smile or laugh in times of stress. Just how I am. Lately though probably about the past 2 years I cry a lot. I wouldn't say cry as in bawling and bring out the kleenex, but tear up a lot when I see sadness and sometimes excitement. An example, I was watching Primetime's What would you do? Last night. They had a fake scenario set up and even though I knew it wasn't real, although the scenario happens often, I couldn't hold back the tears.

So I was thinking about a patient and maybe something really bad happened and they were crying, or their family was crying and I started tearing up to, would I be in trouble??

I hope I am making sense, I am not talking about hysterical crying, I LOVE babies, but I don't want to work in NICU because I know their is a good chance of the baby dying and I know that would effect me.

Anyway, so I am just curious if this is ever addressed.

Specializes in Telemetry, CCU.

I have the same problem, especially around the elderly.... like when an older gentleman talks to me about how much he loves his wife of 50 years, or when a family member starts talking to me about how their loved one was before the dementia really set in. I guess it depends on the situation; sometimes it is best to duck out of the room and others it is appropriate to cry right along with the family, hug them and be there with them. You will (hopefully) develop some relationships with your patients and their familys and even love them in a sort of way.

Probably the most unprofessional thing I did was cry right in front of a completely alert and oriented patient when I was stressed. I was being pulled in way too many directions, had to call 3 different docs on 3 different patients while hanging blood on a pt with a hgb of 8.5. My easy pt, very nice lady in her 50's saw that I was overwhelmed. I told her, "You know, its just so hard sometimes, I am really trying to help every body and can't be four places at once. Every needs me right now and I am really trying......" Then I broke down in tears. I tried to hide it, but she saw what was happening. I tried to sneak outside her room but there was another employee right outside so I was stuck. She came over, handed me a Kleenex and hugged me. Then she called her doctor herself! Strange circumstances, her doctor is also her "nephew", so it really worked out for me lol.

Really though, things happen. We are human and our patients wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, that pt even told me it was okay that I cried, it showed her that I was a genuine person and that I care about my pts.

I wouldn't do it every shift, but it has its place!


106 Posts

Lately though probably about the past 2 years I cry a lot. I wouldn't say cry as in bawling and bring out the kleenex, but tear up a lot when I see sadness and sometimes excitement.

You might want to explore what may have changed in your life during the past 2 years. Perhaps an event at that time bothered you more than you realize.

Jo Dirt

3,270 Posts

Has 9 years experience.

I work in a nursing home and there is a man who faithfully would come and feed his bedridden, nonverbal wife twice daily. He was such a lively person and one day he was telling me about how much him and his wife had been through together. Their house burned down once and he said all they had was their pajamas. They had two sons who both died. He went on and on and talked about how much he loved his wife. I walked in the room one time and he was standing over her crying so hard he couldn't talk. That was sad, I had to clear my throat and leave the room.

One day, he didn't come for supper. Turns out, he had a stroke. Now, his granddaughter brings him to visit his wife once a day and it's sad. He broke down crying and said he wished they could just go together.


135 Posts

You are human and allowed to cry. There several articles around about grief and nurses and how people have to realize that even though nursing is a job, we still form relationships (professionally) with pts and their family and when they die or have difficult times it will affect the nurse. I've "mourned" over pts who have been in our unit for a long time who finally die. I mean, not like it was my loved one, but there's a few that I might tear up over even know thinking about them. Usually it's because you see the family and know that they will now be without their loved one.

You might have to do a little self training if you cry so much that you can't take care of the pt. Usually I can hold it back until I get home :) or at least until you are done doing what you need to for the pt and family. I wondered when I was new if I would cry during a code, but that is pretty much the farthest thing from my mind in that situation. I tend to not cry --in any situation-- until things are over and I'm sitting reflecting on something thing.

On a kind of odd note, I tend to not cry at weddings or sappy movies (not a tear in Titanic, though the ex-marine sitting next to me was balling!), or even movies/stories that really pull at your heart. But what WILL make me tear up is watching the space shuttle launch, pictures of deep space, things like that. Go figure. (I know, I'm strange).


113 Posts

I do work NICU and I do cry when I get attached to patients and they pass away. I got teary with my first discharge too! My big rule of thumb is to never be more emtional than the parents of that baby when they are near death or during bereavement care. I have seen this happen before and it is just unprofessional. If you absolutely cannot help it, excuse yourself to the bathroom and have the charge nurse step in for a bit. I lose it on the way home or when I cry to my husband about how my favorite little one passed away. And then I do some meditation, pray about it, and think about how the family is suffering so much more. That's all I can do.


220 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

Depends on the type of crying.

When the pt. or family truly touches you, and you cry, that proves you are human. When I have built a repore(sp?) with a family, and then the beloved family member dies, I have showen them I am sad and even cried some. If I needed to cry lots, I would go away and not burden the family with that, but I think it's a comfort for people to see that their family member has touched their caregiver. It shows empathy.

When I've had a really rough night, a good cry or two at home, alone, is wonderful therapy. When sad or upsetting things happen, crying is a way to heal, to let the emotion out. The Lord knows we see lots of sad and upsetting things in our jobs.

On the other hand, crying often for small reasons is a sign of too much stress or a sign of depression.

A few months ago some changes happened in my life that caused me to be much, much busier. I thought I was handling it well. Thought I had a good attitude and was taking care of everything, but I was crying easily, at dumb stuff sometimes. One night I had a hard, busy night at work, and I wasn't getting the help I needed, so I burst into tears at the nurses' station. That was embarrassing, and I realized if crying is interferring with my job, I needed help. I changed a bunch of stuff in my life to lower my stress. Now, if I cry, it's back to being appropriate and controllable.

I guess you could ask yourself, is your increase in crying interferring with your life? Do you embarrass yourself by crying at little things and other people don't understand? If so, then maybe you need to de-stress your life (not easy!) or look into whether you may be depressed and not recognize it.

UM Review RN, ASN, RN

7 Articles; 5,163 Posts

Specializes in Utilization Management.

The older I get, the more easily I tear up. I genuinely care more about people than I did when I was younger. I attribute that sensitivity it to a growing relationship with God because it says in the Bible, I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:19 For me, it means that I'm un-learning how to be cool, and learning that it's ok to be passionate about life.

nrsang97, BSN, RN

2,602 Posts

Specializes in Neuro ICU and Med Surg. Has 22 years experience.

I have cried with the family when someone passes. Usually just tearing up a bit.

There was one patient when I transferred to the ICU that made me really cry and I had to leave the room and go to the break room and ball. The young woman was in for a bleed in her brain. She was the niece of the chief of police, she was 2 classes away from her masters in special education. Her students and students parents loved her. Her sister or mom was always at her bedside. We were withdrawing care at the end of a crazy shift (were going to do a dcd donation, but family backed out since they were taking so long to get her to the OR). The RRT extubated her after I gave the morphine and glycopyrulate. I started the drip, and he extubated her. Her sister was standing next to me and the pt was taking her last breath and her sister plead with her to keep breathing and I lost it. I suctioned her and had my preceptor take over. I cried all the way home that day and the night before. I had taken care of her the whole time she was admitted. I have never lost it like that when a patient has passed. I think it was that I develped a relationship with her sister and mother. I learned so much about her too in that time I cared for her.

That is one patient I will never forget.


288 Posts

Has 10 years experience.

I have cried from being sad about loss, I have cried because something touched me...elderly people make me cry sometimes with the way they are so "touch hungry" - when they reach out to touch your hair, or your face, and grab at your hands, just wanting human touch. It's very hard not to fill up with tears in times like that.


12 Posts

Specializes in Paediatrics.

There is no harm in crying.... we are humans, right? I know when I was a student, my tutor told us it was wrong to cry in front patients. Along the years, I realised, tearing when you see your long staying patient die is being human... I realised it was good in sharing their pain and grievances. Nursing is about caring and loving.....We are not ROBOTS! :prdnrs:


825 Posts

I myself am a bit of a crier too! I cried twice throughout clinicals over a particular resident and his daughter (who was also crying). I would never sit there and bawl outloud with the family but if they see you wiping a tear or two away I think it's okay. She knew that I was taking great care of her father because I have a big heart. I think that it made her feel comfort there was someone who cared so much when she couldn't be there. I hope that I helped her to heal in a way because she didn't have the stress of thinking that her father was in bad hands prior to his passing. Even though she will probably never remember name, I hope that she remembers that I was there for her and her family in time of their need.

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