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Lost my first patient today

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I cried in the bathroom for 15 minutes and then had to soldier on. My instructor said that's what everyone does. :-/ This feeling sucks.

I cried in the bathroom for 15 minutes and then had to soldier on. My instructor said that's what everyone does. :-/ This feeling sucks.

It hurts. In so sorry. Schools teaches you the "savior" mentality and prepares you to be this knight in shining armor saving everyone one foley and IV at a time, unfortunately they don't prepare you to lose. I am so sorry.

Posting from my phone, ease forgive my fat thumbs! :)

It hurts. I'm so sorry. Schools teach you the "savior" mentality and prepare you to be this knight in shining armor saving everyone one foley and IV at a time, unfortunately they don't prepare you to lose. I am so sorry.

Posting from my phone, ease forgive my fat thumbs! :)

Posting from my phone, ease forgive my fat thumbs! :)

I'm sorry for the loss. I know it must be sad and hard to deal w/ at first. I know this kinda sounds bad, but you'll get used to it... I dont really know why Im giving you advice because I havent even started nursing classes yet (I start in the fall). So I dont know anything about losing patients yet. But I just imagine thats what Id tell myself if i was in your situation... Things will get better. Good luck to u!:)

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Nurses are privileged to be present at the most significant events of our patients' lives - whether it is the beginning of life, the end of life, or life-changing events that occur somewhere in the middle.

We do our best but sometimes, our highest level of skills and knowledge is not going to make a difference in the outcome. Each of us develops our own methods of coping. For some of our colleagues, it becomes too much and they try to self-medicate or retreat into cynicism to avoid the emotional impact. Some of us are fortunate enough to establish a personal philosophy that provides the internal structure we need to cope.

This does not mean that we do not grieve for the loss of a life and the potential it represented. Instead, we accept the inevitability of death and focus on assisting the living - especially those whose lives were most closely intertwined with that patient. This initial 'grief work' is critical for those who are left behind. As you gain more experience, you will become more patient-focused and able to sublimate your own reactions. You will still be sad for the loss of life and what it represents, but this will have much less priority for you as you do what needs to be done to ensure that the patient's family is taken care of.

I think "losing" a patient is part of growing as a nurse. Its definitley part of "the circle of life". I used to be lucky enough and not have patients die on me for a long time and then when the first patient did I was devastated but at the same time your nursing care doesn't stop when they die. Taking care and making sure the patients dignity is preserved, the post-mortem care is well provided, the family reassured and that they keep a good image of their loved one when they last see him/her in a hospital bed. All that helps me feel better about my day and I take some comfort in it too, helping the family and respecting the patient.

Nurses are privileged to be present at the most significant events of our patients' lives - whether it is the beginning of life, the end of life, or life-changing events that occur somewhere in the middle.

We do our best but sometimes, our highest level of skills and knowledge is not going to make a difference in the outcome. Each of us develops our own methods of coping. For some of our colleagues, it becomes too much and they try to self-medicate or retreat into cynicism to avoid the emotional impact. Some of us are fortunate enough to establish a personal philosophy that provides the internal structure we need to cope.

This does not mean that we do not grieve for the loss of a life and the potential it represented. Instead, we accept the inevitability of death and focus on assisting the living - especially those whose lives were most closely intertwined with that patient. This initial 'grief work' is critical for those who are left behind. As you gain more experience, you will become more patient-focused and able to sublimate your own reactions. You will still be sad for the loss of life and what it represents, but this will have much less priority for you as you do what needs to be done to ensure that the patient's family is taken care of.

:up: This said everything I was thinking and more. Very nice response!

I appreciate the encouragement. I'm feeling better and I think next time won't be AS hard. I'm a very empathetic person so I kind of knew this was coming. It really has made me love nursing even more though.

I'm really glad I can find other nurses/students to connect with at any moment. This nursing stuff can be heavy. Thanks. :)