Symapathy is not easy

Nurses General Nursing


Before I start, please dont take this as criticism...I dont mean it that way. I only want you to see what I saw. I am finishing my first year in an ADN program. The school that I attend is very stressful (we started with 80 in my class and we are now down to 45 students), and I just had an extra stress added onto my life. My only brother died one month ago from today. He was 22. I loved him dearly, and this was very unexpected. I was the first one to the hospital, and my mother arrived soon after me. When she got there, the nurse came in to talk to us. She entered the room smiling, and she appeared bubbly. She told us that my brother was there, and that we needed to tell her what funeral home to send him to. The news of my brother's death was only an hour old, and we were unable to make any decisions at that moment, but she told us we had to decide quickly because the funeral home had to make arrangements. I know that she was only doing her job. And I know that my brother's death meant nothing more to her than a dead patient. But it meant a lot to everyone else in that room. I have learned over the past month that sympathy is not easy, and it is not comfortable, but it is greatly appreciated.


720 Posts

Specializes in CCU/CVU/ICU.

That nurse was a fool. I'm sorry you had to deal with such a person, but we're all not like that. 'Sympathy/empathy/considerate-to-people's emotions-pathy' is at the core of nursing (healthcare in general). Seems that nurse has a serious innability to communicate effectively with families in crisis.

Another example of "it's easy to be a nurse....but its hard to be a GOOD nurse..".

I do hope you gave this dork a piece of your mind...

Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

I've never seen anyone approach a bereaved family all bubbly. As a matter of fact, when when a bereaved family is on the unit, even if we didn't know the patient, most stop by to offer condolences...everybody, nurses, techs, housekeeping, docs.

Although some decisions need to be made quickly-autopsy, organ donation, funeral home) we try not to make the family feel rushed. We've been known to hold the body in the room for long hours so family could get in from out of town. (not overnighters, but within a few hours) Grief is not something to be rushed.

suzanne4, RN

26,410 Posts

That nurse was inappropriate and way out of line. I hope that you sent a note to administration about what happened, at least so that she did not do that to anyone else.

Sorry for your loss. :balloons:


18 Posts

wow, that's an awful way to be treated at such a difficult time.

that rn needs a reality check. my experience was the complete opposite, thankfully. first let me say the rns at the kent county hospital er in warwick, ri are the best. altho the surgery for ca was a success, the post-op infection was what sent my husband to the er. we had had the discussion abt dnr/dni/cmo and i knew that's what he wanted. course at a time like that all reason flies out the window, as does nine yrs of nsg.

i told the rescue guys (the capt was one of the guys responding and he asked me outright what the orm [orders for resusitative measures] status was) even before we realized how serious things were. once at the er, they had a tough time getting an iv in and drawing blood, so after an hour in the waiting area i "put on my rn hat" and insisted on going back to be with him. the rns were great, explaining that they were having a problem (and didn't take offense when i pointed out a vein i thought they might get, which they did), and getting me a chair, and then getting the md when i had a bunch of questions abt the labs.

long story short, my husband died within an hour and a half of my going back to be with him. the rns realizing he wasn't going to make it, made sure i had privacy, that i was a comfortable as possible, and gave me time to say goodbye and be with him a while after he died. then they rallied around me, making sure i was okay to drive home (it was 0300 when he died), and offering me a shoulder, decaf coffee, even chocolate birthday cake. they talked to me gently abt calling a funeral home, with an arm around me shoulder, kleenex in hand.

i cannot say enuf good things abt the rn staff there. i make sure i convey that same attitude, sympathy and empathy to pts and families when i work.


97 Posts

Specializes in oncology.

I am so sorry for your loss. That nurse was completely out of line. I believe that nurse was not the rule but, the except to the rule. As the other post stated, I hope you will send a note to the administration so that this will not have to another family. Losing a close family member is so hard. My prayers go out to you and your family.


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

I am truly sorry for your grave loss. My sincere condolences.


135 Posts

This nurse was an exception...but sometimes i wonder what my expression is when I have to tell the family such awful news..

I never know how to position my face..I don't want to look horrified or tragic and freak everybody out even if thats exactly how I feel..sometimes I am furious but I don't want that the family to know that the idiot resident could have done a better job...

I have a bad time with death...I think my families know I take it very personally but that moment when you walk in the door is incredibly hard and weird and uncomfortable

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