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Post mortum care mourning :(

Nurses   (2,310 Views 12 Comments)
by noyesno noyesno, BSN, RN (Member)

noyesno has 8 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Surgical/Trauma.

17,542 Visitors; 812 Posts

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I'm a nursing student. Today I did post mortum care on a patient. I have never touched a dead body before and it was a scary experience for me. I know it will become easier the more I do it but I'm finding myself in a mourning state right now (quiet, reflective, sad, not wanting to go to date night with the BF, etc.) and was wondering if you always feel this way following such as experience. I know its important to not internalize work stuff but I can't help but to mourn the life that was lost right before my eyes. Any tips on how to handle to handle this? Thanks so much.

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6,329 Visitors; 525 Posts

I would say that it is only normal to be reflective...the first time is the hardest...

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Nascar nurse has 25+ years experience and specializes in LTC & Hospice.

31,824 Visitors; 2,213 Posts

Just deal with it..anyway you find comforting to you. I have been at this 25 years & have dealt with many deaths. I work long term care so this is a common event.

Most often I can deal with it in a professional manner and just go about my day. But, just this week I had a younger lady die of cancer. She was just a really nice lady and she tried so hard to stay tough for her family. She went out of this world with a ton of class and dignity. After all of these years I felt just like you describe for your first experience.. sad, reflective, etc. I was telling my husband about it that night and said I was so glad that after 25 years of this I could still feel the pain and sadness of it all.

So I guess I'm trying to tell ya..it'll be Ok, the pain/sadness is really a good thing, but then you have to move on with it.

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crystalchen has 4 years experience and specializes in Geriatrics.

1,763 Visitors; 43 Posts

I am glad you experience that in nursing school.... I had my first code yesterday and did my first post mortum care... it was a little scary, and also sad... I could not sleep for 4 hours after went home and then kept dreaming about the whole thing..... I think it will be better and better along with more experiences...

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1,349 Visitors; 21 Posts

It's a journey...Everyone copes differently. Respect the family's need to mourn in their own way. More importantly, respect the process that you need to go through to cope. It's only when we don't deal with grief, that it becomes an issue. So, give yourself permission and time to grieve, even if it is brief.

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3,969 Visitors; 92 Posts

It's normal to feel reflective after your first hands on experience with death. It makes you stop and think about that person's life as well as your own. Each time a patient of mine dies no matter how old they are or how expected it was, I still feel a little sad. The first one hurts the most but it does get easier. Try to go about your normal personal life...try not to take stuff like this home with you.

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noyesno has 8 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Surgical/Trauma.

17,542 Visitors; 812 Posts

Thanks everyone; your responses were very helpful to me. I decided to go on with date night because of your feedback and feel a lot better knowing the whole post mortum care isn't easy for most. I just hope for no nightmares!

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Aporter004 specializes in Cardiac.

555 Visitors; 12 Posts

Honestly, you have to get over it. Yes, it is weird because its not everyday that you see/handle a dead body. But you can't let that get to you- you are going to see far more crazy/wild things in school/career. If you are going to let things like that interfere with your life to where you are getting quiet and not wanting to do anything- I would suggest finding another career. It is okay to reflect, that is normal. Hang in there.

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Forever Sunshine has 7 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC.

16,057 Visitors; 1,261 Posts

Consider this a great experience for a nursing student.

I had my first dying patient about a month ago. She didn't die on my shift but I knew the last time I worked with her would be pretty close to the end.

I did mourn the day after I worked.. I was very gloomy and I did have dreams about her. I didn't let it interfere at work. I kept all my feelings bottled up.. and then dealt with them at home.

So your feelings are normal. Don't feel like you are overreacting to this at all.

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1,385 Visitors; 47 Posts

It always makes me reflective, you know what it does??,.. It HUMBLES me, It makes me remember we all will be there someday, it grounds me, and I always feel honored that I was with that person as they left this world, ...some nurses are there when we come in the world,..... and just as important,- some nurses have the same honor,- when we go out.

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Aporter004 specializes in Cardiac.

555 Visitors; 12 Posts

I agree scoutsmom! It's an awesome thing- no I think its an honor to be there for that person and hopefully a comfort to that person passing. It is very humbling. But you can't let it interfere with your life and make you depressed.

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Erindel RN has 4 years experience and specializes in medical psych and hospice.

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I just had my first code yesterday in the er. It is still replaying over in my thoughts. The man did not make it. I took home the feeling of doom and gloom with me and I had a hard time getting to sleep last nite as well. It is so surreal when u are upfront witnessing something like that. I do get a little creeped out doing post mortem care but its part of the job. I think that the person must be in a better place now, and it just was their time to go. I feel for the family and I try to think how I would feel if I were in their shoes. I hope it gets better for you and in time, it will be hopefully easier to cope with.

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