a resident died last night....


i have been a cna for about a year and a half and i have NEVER been on a shift when someone passes away till last night. i was SHOCKED, he had been talking less then an hour earlier. i felt my self tighten up and like i had an elephant on my chest. my stomach had been growling and i was trying to force myself to eat animal crackers but i couldnt, i didnt even want to drink anything. i wasnt sad because i barely knew this resident, i just felt idk. i cant explain it. i went to see him, because i needed to. it was just so final. idk.

has anyone else felt this way?

Death is scary, until you realize that it is also a blessing for some.



424 Posts

Specializes in Addictions, Acute Psychiatry. Has 27 years experience.

Our culture doesn't deal with death too well. It's good for the soul to see what happens and realize death is a part of life.

The answer? Yes it happened to me and I needed a lot of time to myself to recalibrate my neurons. It's not easy. This is a good wake up to start addressing death and dying in your own life so you can be more of a facilitator and observer and not "feel" directly involved. Having said that, I still jerk a tear or two and hug families if their body language says so (with permission..."need a hug"?). It's hard; I'm sorry for what just happened.

I too had someone die on me about two weeks ago, at first I was hurt. What did I fail to do? Answer: nothing.

I did it all letter perfect, documented to the tee, but MOST importantly I learned, now two weeks later, she was supposed to pass on my shift so that she had received the best possible care during her transition. I am glad she passed (during rounds no less) at the end of my shift

tewdles, RN

3,156 Posts

Specializes in PICU, NICU, L&D, Public Health, Hospice. Has 31 years experience.

You just came face to face with mortality. We all die. Sometimes it is expected...sometimes not so much. I hope your old guy was comfortable at the end. The symptoms you were experiencing sound a bit like anxiety...if it happens again try taking some slow breaths.


280 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Disease Management, smoking Cessati. Has 28 years experience.

It still happens to me... hang in there, it just means you are human.

babyNP., APRN

1,921 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 15 years experience.

For my first time, I was a nurse tech and I had been doing some glucose checks and basic patient care on a pt in an ICU that I had floated down to, went to lunch, and came back and asked to do post-mortem care.


...was on my face and I felt off for the entire day and couldn't concentrate on very much. It's normal. *hugs*


13 Posts

I am an EMT in training and my very first call was to a nursing home to have our medic pronounce one of the residents. I watched as one of the other EMTs attached the leads for the EKG and seeing the flat line kinda got to me. We ended up not transporting because the patient had passed and there was nothing we could do. Being the first calls was a little unnerving. I know I'm going to see things like this both in EMS and Nursing, and my main goal will be to treat it with respect and do what I can when I can.


1,174 Posts

Specializes in Cardiology, Oncology, Medsurge.

I have seen some hideous corpses, not a pretty site! One in particular I remember: a man's face of anguished horror. Prior to his death, prior to my even having met him, I had not witnessed the deliberate attempt to save him by the physicians of opening his chest and massaging his heart, only the aftermath did I witness, grizzly (I'll spare the details, your imagination probably paints a more gruesome portrait!) You see, I was a CNA at the time and was there to help another CNA prepare the body for a body bag. There is nothing more awful than to see that someone went through trauma prior to death or was greeted at deaths door by demons; just to see this poor creature was frightening!

I remember another instance, another time as a CNA, I came into this man's room with his family members at the bedside; the man, looking out of breath and grimacing, I attempted to return the ventimask to his face which he rejected. The family insisted that I not place the mask on his face saying, "He knows what he is doing!" Later I came to understand that this man was a physician and understood his prognosis of smoking all of his life. After he passed I once again was called into the room to assist with end of life chores. Now, this time was different. I recall his beautifully balanced features and a look of poise (reminded me of a greek statue of someone famous) and my feeling that this is how he wished to present himself to me in the first place, as the great physician, I have a sense that he was...

Another time as a CNA I was given the task of assigning duties to an RN (I know this sounds freaky, but it actually happened!). I said that I was going to be busy setting up the trapeze in MR so and so's room, would you kindly do the vitals for my eight patients please. She went about the business of taking vitals and when she got to number eight, she noticed that this person was no longer of the living and to make matters more unusual, the person that had passed away was her cousin she had not seen in 20 years. She told me that she was grateful to have seen her cousin again and to visit with her cousin's daughter. Amazing huh?