Is it okay to be emotional?

Nurses General Nursing


  • by Emery
    Specializes in Med-surg.

Hi! I want to be a nurse when I graduate from highschool (1 1/2 yrs.). My problem though is that if I see someone cry because of a loved one passing away or loads of pain, I tend to get emotional also. Is that okay with nursing, or do you have to have emotions like steel?

And another queston: I would like to be a CNA within the next year (if thats possible). Is there anywhere I can get the training without having to be 18? I checked the red cross and a couple months ago they said you had to be 16 then when I called to sign up they said 18. I wasn't a happy camper! :D

Thanks in advance for your replies!



20,964 Posts

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

Yes you are is not only OK but expected. You will learn the time and place and means to express these emotions as you go on. Don't be afraid TO FEEL EVER in life or you begin to DIE. Keep trying, you sound wonderful and we definately need folks you like caring for the sick/wounded.


1,049 Posts

Specializes in midwifery, ophthalmics, general practice.

its ok to get emotional- after 22yrs in this job I still sit and cry at the things that happen sometimes. the thing is, you make great friends and they help you through the bad bits- I think it takes a nurse to understand a nurse sometimes!! especially as our humour can be so gross!!



1,024 Posts

Emotions are what make you human. You can't apologize for that! I am more emotional at work than I am at home...:)



73 Posts

No.. I would recoment keeping all emotions bottled and burried deep down until it leads to strange and funky-cool behaviours, like thinking your a flamingo....;)

Okay, stupid answer, but you get my point? no? oh dont worry then....

Nurse Ratched, RN

2,149 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

Re: your second question: I don't know what Florida law is, but "back in the day" I was a nurses' aide at 16. I was legal to work, therefore legal to be an aide; By the time I was 18 certification had become mandatory; students in high school took the CNA classes at the local Vo-tech. Check with some local long term care facilities - they should be able to assist you.

As far as emotional goes, you'll probably find as you go along that you are able to be a little less overtly emotional (even if it's tearing you up inside.) But I agree with the others who said being emotional is not wrong. It's a strength that enables us to retain our compassion.


64 Posts

Good question Emery, I was wondering the same thing myself about emotions in the workplace.

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,525 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

Ditto what everyone else said.

Sometimes though during certain situations, you can't be the one to fall apart. You need to be strong and there for them, make decisions, call docs and talk on the phone to people, among other things.

But as SmilingBlueEyes says, you'll learn what's appropriate.

I get teary eyed around death too. I hug family members and cry along with them if I need to. Usually, if they are crying appropraitely (like not all loud and hystrical), then I'll cry right along with them. Or if I need to be strong, hold it together, I can do that too, and then feel my feelings later.

But feel your feelings.


190 Posts

Emotions are what makes you human.If you loose you ability to feel,you loose your ability to live.You will find an inner strength in yourself as you grow,that will allow you to be outwardly calm and supportive when you need to, but,there will be occaisions when tears come.Sometimes, family members and patients need empathy.I agree that crying with them when it is appropriate is a natural.

Specializes in med/surg, cardiac/telemetry, hospice.

Yes Yes Yes!

It is our emotions that allow us to be compassionate...the key to nursing.


205 Posts

I can cry at the least little thing at home,but at work you learn to keep more control.As Thirdshiftguy said,you have other things to be doing and family and patients NEED you to be the strong one.

Doesn't mean I haven't been found howling like a baby in the ward office after the event though!;)


350 Posts

Specializes in Anesthesia.

Let me tell you my experience with emotions in the workplace. I had a patient who was a two on one assignment because she was a fresh VAD. I was really excited to have this patient because I was thrilled to be dealing with a new VAD. She was a young lady, a wife & a new mother, & when that part hit me, I became very scared for her & for her family. All night we struggled to keep her alive & maintain the delicate hemodynamic balance. Blood products right and left, constant labs, struggling with oxygenation issues. In the morning just before I left for the end of my shift she was taken back to OR to be put on a different kind of VAD, and I thought about & prayed for her & her family all day. I was so worried for this woman that I could not sleep. All I could think about was getting back to work that night to care for her again.

Well, the evening came, & I returned to work to find out that 12 hours later she was still in the OR. About an hour into the shift the OR called to let us know that they were bringing the patient back to us simply to let her die with her family. Her husband sat at her bedside holding & kissing her hand. She looked horrible, even worse than she had the evening before, but you could tell that she was actually a very beautiful woman. I saw this horrible scene, & I just lost it. I couldn't choke back the tears. All of a sudden I just heard this loud whimper come out of my throat, & I felt so embarassed over my unprofessional display of emotion. I couldn't stop it though, the tears just kept coming. Ashamed & apologetic for my behavior, I just wanted to go hide in the locker room. But then I looked over at the RN I was working with, a much more seasoned nurse than me & one who I really respect, to find that she was crying too.

I keep my report sheet from that patient in my dresser drawer. I pray that I will never forget my patient's name, what she looked like, or how I felt when I saw her husband kissing her hand because the moment that I no longer feel grieved at the losses we encounter is the moment that I have lost one of the core qualities needed to be a good nurse. Emotion is not only acceptable and part of being human, it is necessary to be a good nurse, and a good human being.

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