How to deal with death of toddler death on picu..

  1. I am just wondering how the nurses that work on picu deal with a death or impending death of a toddler. 2 wks ago my 2 1/2 yr old son had gotten an ear infection and then 2 days later he had gotten admitted to the hospital and then was diagnosed with m5 Aml leukemia. He was a healthly child. I just couldn't beleive how fast the cancer advanced within a short period of time. He was admitted on a mon afternoon and died wed am. He didn't really show any symptoms other then the typical ones that one would have with an ear infection. I had decided to bring him back to the clinic on mon for I was kinda of wondering if the antiboitic was working for him.

    I am just wondering how the nurses that work on this unit are able to keep them selves to gether in times like that.

    I am currently going to school for lpn and I am planning on going onto the ADN Rn program. I was interested in Nicu since both of my sons were preemies but now I really wonder if I would be able to handle working those areas.
    Last edit by nd deb on Aug 17, '06
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    About nd deb

    Joined: May '06; Posts: 65; Likes: 24


  3. by   NewYorkCityRN
    I am so sorry about the death of your son. You are in my prayers.
  4. by   cardsRN
    i am very sorry to hear about your loss. the death of a child is a burden i cannot imagine bearing. you are in my thoughts.
  5. by   nd deb
    It was an awful experience. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. He died of clots and hemorraging, swelling in the brain. The neurologist told us that there was nothing they could do to help that. They also found that he wasn't getting any blood circulation above his eyes so he was pretty much brain dead. We had him pulled off the vent and I held him in my arms. The 2 drs he had told us that he will get worse before he got better. He never pulled out of it, just kept going downhill. He was spared the pain and agony of treatment. From what I have read on this cancer it is very hard to treat and the prognosis isn't that great. Just hard to believe that he happen to be the lucky rare one to get it. It is one of those things that you would have never thought would happen to you.
  6. by   live4rachael
    I'm so sorry for your loss. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    Only you can tell if you'll be able to handle it yourself. I'm using it as motivation because I'll remember what it felt like on the other side. I've seen other posters on the board say that if a child's death doesn't impact you as a nurse, then maybe it's time for you to move on. The hospital I'm about to start volunteering at next month told us at orientation that they have nurse grieving groups when a patient, especially the chronic/long-termers, pass away, and there are always the pastoral care services provided. I will always remember the nurses who were there with us when our 8 month old daughter died.
  7. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    How awful for you! You had no time to even come to grips with the diagnosis and then he was gone. I feel for you and your family.

    Every person will cope with this part of the job differently. As a previous poster said, when it stops affecting you to see a child die, then perhaps you're in the wrong job. That being said, it is still possible to care and grieve but maintain your own mental health. A lot of factors come into play for me in this kind of situation. I think about the child's illness and prognosis; if death was inevitable, it's a bit easier to deal with a quick end to suffering. The families I have the greatest empathy for are the ones who have watched us repeatedly pull the child back from the brink over weeks or months, only to lose in the end. I think about what the child's life would be like if we kept them breathing for weeks, but in order to do that we had to keep them comatose and paralyzed. Is that living? For the child or the family? I think about what survival will mean to the family. Will all their lives be forever changed? How will they cope with those changes? Will the family end up broken? At the risk of sounding callous, there really are worse outcomes than death.

    Recently our unit was hit with two events that hit us all really hard. First, the 7 year old stepson of one of my favourite coworkers stroked on the ward and then died in our unit. I cared for this boy and his family for only one night before he passed away, but I hope I was able to provide comfort. Then, the day of this child's funeral, one of our nurses was found dead in his bed. A more freindly and easy-going peson you could not find anywhere. His death will affect us all for some time to come.

    How do we as a unit deal with all these stressors? Our chaplain has set up a weekly opportunity for us to come together and share our feelings. She calls it "Reflections with Ruth" and there are times when it's very well attended. It's very soothing to have our emotions supported and validated. She will also speak to people individually if that's needed. She and I have talked many times, usually at night when there is a death watch on, about channelling our emotions and maintaining our humanity.

    nd deb, you're in my thoughts and my shoulder is always there.
  8. by   NurseLatteDNP
    You are in my prayers. I am sorry to hear about your son.
  9. by   fantasie
    nd deb,
    So sorry for your heart and certainly my prayers go out to you.
  10. by   weekend warrior
    OMG, I am so sorry for you loss nd deb.. My heart breaks for you.
    I wish you strength to get you through this.

    After the loss of a child at work, it certainly is difficult. Especially I find, if the pt is close in age to my own son. Many times, my own feelings of fear, and sadness come out as I imagine what if it were me? my son?
    I think having empathy for my pts and their families is a good thing.
    Death is something that I consider just as important a process for my pts and their families that as a nurse I can affect , just like my nursing care in their recovery .
    My main concern is to make that process as easy and comforting to each individual family . My job is not over, and it is in this process that nursing can make a huge impact.
    On a personal level, since I became a parent myself , I do find it harder for myself . Talking to my coworkers helps.

    take care of yourself.
  11. by   emllpn2006
    Sorry to hear about your tragic loss. You will be in my prayers.
  12. by   traumaRUs
    I am so very sorry for your loss. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers.
  13. by   tencat
    I'm so sorry. I think it's your call as to whether or not you could or would want to deal with this area of nursing. Whatever you do, make sure you take the time to be gentle with yourself and heal. We're all here thinking of you.
  14. by   VickyRN
    I am so very sorry for your loss. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.