Lost my inspiration

Nurses General Nursing


Last Friday, in our facility's ICU, my good friend and mentor passed away, having never regained consciousness after a terrible car accident Thursday evening. PJ was the best nurse and one of the best people I've ever known, and one of the people who inspired me to become a nurse. The past few days on our unit have been tough ones without her. All of us who worked with her have been in awe of her skill, her dedication, and her ability to stay calm and professional in any crisis. Those are qualities one might expect--and often finds--in any nurse with three decades of experience, although PJ was gifted even by that standard. But her experience and skill were matched by her warmth, her humor, and the generosity of her spirit. She was a leader by quiet example who set the tone for our unit. I am privileged to work with a number of excellent nurses, but the best of them were a little calmer and a little more confident when PJ was on duty.

Since I had worked on my unit before becoming a nurse, I was given the opportunity to choose my preceptor for orientation. By that point, I had learned enough to realize that there wasn't a nurse on my unit I couldn't learn something from, but choosing PJ as a mentor was a no-brainer. I've since joked that she was my role model, right up until I realized how much work that would be. Joking aside, I realize I'll never be the nurse she was. I started too late in life to ever match her experience, and for all we've had in common and all I've admired about her, we're two different people. There are things I'll have to do my way because I'm just not able to do them her way, but that's okay. I can't imagine a day when my coworkers will breathe easier because I'm there. I can't match her confidence and composure. But if I try real hard, I think I can support my coworkers and advocate for my patients in a way she would approve. I've lost someone who inspired me, but I resolve that my tribute to her will be to work hard to remain inspired.

PJ died much too young. It's a loss to us all. But while she lived, by God, she lived, and I thank Him earnestly that she has been a part of my life.


170 Posts

Your post brought tears to my eyes. The patients on your unit were lucky to have her and will continue to be lucky to have you as a nurse. You don't have to try to be like her, just be yourself..you sound like someone that cares deeply about good patient care and you will continue to be an amazing nurse with the compassion you showed in this post.

lisamc1RN, LPN

943 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Behavioral/ Hospice.

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a blessing it was to share a part of her life.

Specializes in M/S, MICU, CVICU, SICU, ER, Trauma, NICU.

I am very sorry for your loss and thankful that you shared this very loved filled post. May PJ RIP and may you and yours find light in that very dark tunnel you are in right now. God bless you all.


rn/writer, RN

9 Articles; 4,168 Posts

Hey, Mike. Thanks for sharing this. You were fortunate indeed to have such an inspiration and mentor. I'm so sad for you and your unit that she is gone. But she will never be forgotten. You will pay her blessings forward (and no doubt already do) because that's the way it works.


leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

hi honey, :icon_hug:

mike, you were so very lucky.

we're all on borrowed time, but somehow your mentor managed to permeate your core, resulting in an enriched and grateful friend/devotee.

and i'm so, so sorry for your precious loss.

the next time you shine at work, r/t some extraordinary feat enacted by you, you can consider yourself touched by an angel.

she'll do well in heaven.:balloons:



172 Posts

What a beautiful post. I'm very sorry for your loss... It's very tough to lose someone you admire so much. If possible, I think it would be wonderful if you could write a letter to her family much like your post here. I think they'd really appreciate it.

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

22 Articles; 9,986 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

Mike, I am so, so sorry about the loss of your friend and mentor.:heartbeat:crying2:

I know it doesn't help much now, but PJ's influence will affect and inform the way you practice nursing for the rest of your career. She will live on, through you and through every nurse who worked with her over the years, and what you all learned from her will in turn be passed on to new nurses, long after her departure.

And one day, you will come in to work, your co-workers will breathe a sigh of relief, and the shift will somehow run more smoothly because YOU are there...........and PJ will be smiling down on you from Heaven, knowing she was a part of making you the nurse you are becoming.:redbeathe

nursemike, ASN, RN

1 Article; 2,362 Posts

Specializes in Rodeo Nursing (Neuro).

Thanks to all for your support.

I work on a unit where coworkers hugging each other is not unusual at any time, but over the past few days it has sort of run amuck. I think a number of us almost felt we ought to transfer our patients and shut down the unit for a few days, but really, the best tribute we could do was show up, take our assignments, and do them to the best of our ability. It's what she always did.

I'm disappointed that I was in kind of a crappy mood all last weekend. Not the easiest shifts, under the best of circumstances. Actually, for the past couple of weeks, I've had a run of "drug seeking" patients with psych/substance issues. My big problem with that is that I realize that people who are in pain tend to have "drug seeking" behaviors, because they want to not have pain.

So you get people who know it isn't time for another pain med complaining of nausea q6, itching, anxiety, and you keep hearing the Ramones signing "24, 24 hours a day, I wanna be sedated..." I know I'm not alone in finding these situations stressful. People in chronic pain tend to be a.) opiate tolerant and b.) depressed, and as a nurse you're caught between the patient who probably is in some pain, and obviously anxious, and the docs who say more drugs is not the answer. And I know I didn't handle that strain as well as well as my mentor would have--I never saw her kick the Pyxis or heard her cuss out the COW (computer on wheels)--although I'm sure she felt like it, now and then.

I'll be attending her funeral in a couple of days, and almost look forward to meeting the family she spoke of so often. I do want them to know how much she was loved at work. We tend to speak of what a great nurse she was, but as smart and as skillful as she was, it was the person she was that made her great.

Maybe I'm nuts, and maybe I'm not, but she always seemed to like hearing about my cat, Peaches, and I like to think she finally got to meet him.

Specializes in Peds Hem, Onc, Med/Surg.

Its always sad when we lose a good nurse. What you wrote was beautiful and I am sorry for your loss.

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