My Home Health Patient Died

Updated | Posted
by Avill Avill, BSN, RN Member Nurse

Specializes in School Nursing, Home Health. Has 7 years experience.

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I’ve always been one that deals with moments of shock/sadness last. As in I almost get numb in a way, and then it catches up to me.

Well, I had a home health patient pass away about 2 weeks ago. I had seen him on an off for about 3-4 years and recently I was his primary nurse. I saw him that Friday right before he passed on Saturday. 

I’ve had patients pass away before, but this one felt different, feels different.

I still had his name on my schedule the following week, and had time sheets with his signature. And honestly, I’m not over it. I just had to put it out there. That’s all, that’s the post 

JKL33

6,379 Posts

32 minutes ago, Avill said:

I had seen him on an off for about 3-4 years and recently I was his primary nurse.

That's a very long time compared to what we're used to in so many other areas of nursing. It hurts a little. That's okay.

I'm sure you provided him with great care these last few years of his life.

((hugs))

Avill, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nursing, Home Health. Has 7 years experience. 3 Articles; 375 Posts

Thank you JLK. I did, I feel good about the care I gave him. That’s for sure.

thank you for replying to my post. ❤️

JBMmom, MSN, NP

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC. Has 10 years experience. 4 Articles; 2,283 Posts

On 11/23/2022 at 9:40 PM, Avill said:

I just had to put it out there. That’s all, that’s the post 

And that's enough. You developed a relationship with someone, provided very important care for them, probably became an important person in their life at the same time, and now you've lost that relationship. It's natural that it will hurt. It might hurt for a while. Because you care. I hope you can take some time to grieve, to process things as needed, and reflect on the relationship you had and all the good that you did. Sorry for your loss. 

nursel56

Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty. Has 46 years experience. 7,039 Posts

I'm sorry for your loss, Avill. When I had a longtime private duty patient pass away suddenly, I noticed my grief reaction was more powerful than I expected-- even though we both knew she had very limited time left and talked quite openly about it. Still it was a bit jarring when the last thing she did was to post a decorating idea on social media. 

What I eventually learned was that it was OK to let myself feel. Trusting that process resulted in a resolution that yes, it was OK to feel sad, but it never became the same sort of sad I'd feel when a family member or close personal friend passed away.  All the best to you.

Lunah, MSN, RN

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN. Has 14 years experience. 33 Articles; 13,714 Posts

When my mom died, her home health nurses took it hard! They had only treated her for a short time but like most people, they loved my mom immediately. Some people are just good people, bright lights, and the world feels a little dimmer when they're gone. It's okay to mourn them. Hugs. 

Avill, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nursing, Home Health. Has 7 years experience. 3 Articles; 375 Posts

On 11/27/2022 at 12:01 PM, Lunah said:

When my mom died, her home health nurses took it hard! They had only treated her for a short time but like most people, they loved my mom immediately. Some people are just good people, bright lights, and the world feels a little dimmer when they're gone. It's okay to mourn them. Hugs. 

With certain individuals its hard not to get attached ❤️

Jenni1175, LPN

Specializes in LTC, Geriatrics, Home Health, Psych. Has 21 years experience. 1 Post

Bless your heart. I’ve been a Nurse in LTC, geriatric, home health for 20+ years and it never gets “easy” to lose one of our patients. Some of these people see our face more than our own families see us! If you ever get to the point that it does not bother you to lose a patient, then you may need to consider a career change. Just take it one day at a time and know that you were a large part of him being able to stay at home for these last few year and have quality of life . 😘🙏🏼

PositiveEnergy

PositiveEnergy, MSN, PhD, RN, APN

Specializes in Family, Maternal-Child Health. Has 44 years experience. 2 Articles; 16 Posts

This feeling of loss and sense of death is the part of nursing that I believe makes you human.  When you develop that connection with a patient that you sense is different from your relationship with your other patients, you will feel a sense of heaviness/loss when he/she does die.  If you didn't that doesn't seem normal.  Don't be afraid to talk about the person to your colleagues and to think about the good memories or just about the person in general.  It seems no matter how many years you will be in practice there will be these extra meaningful patients you will always recall.  Likely there will be times some incident/action... will trigger a memory of this person and you will be struck again by that heavy feeling.  Could be years later - but it will have a different degree of intensity.

Just like any loss - you will always remember - just over time the pain won't aways be in the forefront as it is now.  It will find a place in your being and once in awhile surface.  Hopefully surfacing as something that made you feel good about the person and brings a smile or sigh of contentment from you.  Most of all don't let anyone make you feel your feeling are exaggerated and such feelings should be held in check.  Glad you recognized you needed to talk about your feelings and reached out. That in itself is healthy!