Questions about dying patients...

Nurses General Nursing


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821 Posts

Specializes in ICU-Stepdown.

I'm probably one of the most cynical people I know when it comes to spirits and beliefs and the like. However, when my grandfather was close to death, at my parents home (they were taking care of him, he was end-stage cancer, and on the last night or so before his death, he rarely opened his eyes, just sort of slept uneasily and cried (made moaning noises, tears sometimes left his eyes)) I chose on tues. night, to skip class, and skip my fire-station duty-shift (I'm also a volunteer -having given up the career years ago, I still like to keep a hand in it) and sit 'visiting' with my grandfather, and my parents (my mother is also end-stage cancer -ovarian for her, prostate metzed to the bones for my late grandfather). I sat and talked to him a little, wiped his face and made sure he was clean.

A 'visit' that was to last from say, noon until five, but stayed until after eleven pm.

The next day, in the evening part of my 9a-9p shift at the hospital, my girlfriend was going to "pa-sit" while my parents went out for a much-needed night out, I got a call from my girlfriend that my grandfather had died just then. I immediately drove to my parents place, wanting to make sure that Pa had been clean and diaper removed before the funeral home came to pick him up. I leaned down and told him I loved him, that he would be missed, and kissed him on the cheek. Did he hear? I don't know. Biologically, unlikely. But I felt better for it.

I'm stopping now.


1,041 Posts

The end of a persons existance sends a shock wave through us. Into our limbic.sys this shock is instinctual because every cell is coded to become at equalibrium. During deathwe, as complex organisms, realize we are one with the entire universe. When you really love someone and they die that shock wave I mentioned can be very strong. I'm sorry :-(


2,259 Posts

Specializes in LDRP; Education.
Originally posted by JUSTYSMOM

I am asking these questions in memory of my wonderful mother who died last month from complications due to metastic breast cancer. (septis/pulmonary/metastisis) She had been put into a drug induced coma. So we had been by her side day and night..holding her, kissing her, rubbing her feet & hands, singing to her and praying. Even up to the day she died, we were talking to her.

Her ICU nurse had told us in passing that that her soul was gone hours before she actually died.

Hi Julie,

Having just gone through this on Saturday with my father in law, dying from non-Hodkins lymphoma, this post touched me, and, I don't know what to think either. Although the comment above by the ICU nurse would have pissed me off. :o That is not comforting in the least - at least not to me.

My husband and I were looked at by the family to make decisions regarding my FIL's care, probably because they watched my husband Aaron graduate from nursing school (though he never practiced and is NOT a nurse) and me because I am a nurse. It was draining and very difficult. We would decide when to increase his medication based on if he would moan or fidgit alot. It was hard to tell if it was really pain, or if it was him "talking" in his dreams. 4 days before he died, he would still have lucid moments and smile at us and even puker his lips for kisses. We too, never left his side, were constantly talking to him, rubbing him and kissing him. About 2 minutes before he died, my husband and I were in the room with the nurse, who was preparing to suction him. It suddenly appeared that he was alert - so I got up and went to his bedside and placed my hand on his chest and peered into his face as I've always done. I smiled and stroked his cheek and then suddenly, he started gasping so softly, and then...stopped. I stared at him in a moment of disbelief, and I grabbed his arm to check a pulse, but by then I already knew. He took two small more gasps of air, and then just...stopped. I started to cry and my husband just grapped his arm and held it. I believe his soul left the room the moment he died, not before! He was with us and he knew we were there during his whole admission.

I guess though, I am actually having a difficult time with this for some reason. I've lost my grandparents early in life and many cousins and various family members. But this one is different. Since he died, I've been so worried about him. I am starting to question if there is life after death, and hoping there is. And I guess I'm so worried and scared for my FIL because he did NOT want to die. Not that anyone really does, but he expressed this so much during this admission. He was scared, sad and clearly was not ready. He only became "terminal" and without hope just 1.5 weeks prior; before that he was scheduled for a stem cell transplant and he had high hopes.

And as I age, death becomes more of a reality for me. As a child and teenager, I've attended a funeral for a family member probably q 6 months. But now it seems to hit that I am not going to live forever, neither is my husband and simply....I am scared.. God and religion bring comfort to me in this time, but sometimes, when I hear so many people challenging God, or the afterlife or anything else that comforts us, I start to wonder if maybe I am the freaky one and they are right. At any rate, it scares me. :o

nimbex, RN

387 Posts

Having seen a (nonresponsive) patient hang on for days until a family member showed up from out of town pass just after their arrival, to patient that hang on and on and on, then the family steps out for a 5 minute break and they pass...

yes, I believe no matter how sick, (I work ICU, I've seen sick as hell), patients wait, unless taken suddenly from us, until what ever moment it is.

ANd I talk to patient untill their last bit of post mortem care... because we just don't know... so believe that the dying can hear you, who knows?


409 Posts

Specializes in Float Pool, ICU/CCU, Med/Surg, Onc, Tele.

Susy (hugs) I understand where you're coming from. I had a horrible time with the deaths of both my grandparents, and I was right there with both of them. It's hard being in the state of questioning God / afterlife / the future, because it's not something we can ever KNOW. I think we each have to come to some sort of resolution in our own minds that leaves us at peace, and that's different for each of us. I lit an incense for you and am sending you prayers for peace.

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