The Passing of "Mrs. Jones" and How She Changed My Life

In our facility, "Mrs. Jones" (not her real name of course) was what we called a "needy" resident. She was completely bedded bound and constantly in need of something. We used to joke that her call light would one day catch fire from constant use. Usually, her needs were very simple. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

The Passing of "Mrs. Jones" and How She Changed My Life

In a 10 minute period, she would go from hot to cold and back to hot again, requiring multiple trips to her room to adjust the a/c or add/subtract blankets, etc. To add to the fact that her call bell was so consistent that it was the cadence to which we all set our pace, if it was not answered within the first 10 seconds of its activation, she would begin calling random names of nurses and aids that may or may not be on duty at the time.

Yes, Mrs. Jones was a handful and I am ashamed now to say that I dreaded dealing with her on a daily basis. I had a million other things to do and 25 other patients who needed my attention! Didn't she understand???

Mrs. Jones was a Hospice patient for what seemed like forever. She frequently called the name of the Hospice nurse too. Mrs. Jones was alert and oriented and just seemed to need an unusual amount of attention which I was really hard pressed to provide and I was resentful of that.

I came to work one early fall day to find that Mrs. Jones, who had been her usual self the day before had taken a turn for the worse. She was hallucinating, and her general condition had greatly deteriorated. She was still, however, aware of her call light!

I tended to her all evening and into the night. I turned and changed her many time myself because the aides were busy with others and she needed such frequent attention. This also gave me the opportunity to keep up with her condition.

At one point around 1 AM, I walked into her room and heard her talking in a sweet, grandmotherly voice that was unfamiliar to me too... well, no one that I could see. She was saying, "Don't go near that bush now. There are wasps in there." I asked, "Mrs. Jones, who are you talking to?" "Why, these children, of course. I don't want them to get stung. You stay away from it too." "OK." I agreed and started to leave the room. "Have you seen my daughter?", she asked me. In fact, her daughter hadn't been in to see her mom for months. I have no idea what had happened but the instruction in her chart stated that her daughter should only be called upon Mrs. Jones death. I told her that I had not.

She then made the statement that changed my life. "I wanted her here because I am going to die tonight and I don't want to be alone.", she said.

At first, I thought this was a melodramatic way of demanding yet MORE attention. As I turned to leave the room, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I needed to stay.

I went to the nurses' station and gathered some paperwork, well aware that I had plenty to do. I told the aids where I would be and carried my paperwork into Mrs. Jones room pushing a bedside table on which to work.

"I'll be here with you, Mrs. Jones.", I told her. She smiled.

She wanted to tell me about her family and her problems with her daughter and needless to say, not much paperwork got done. I realized through her stories that she needed attention because she really didn't have anyone but the staff of the nursing home. She talked for two solid hours as I listened and held her hand.

When she had covered all the information she wanted me to know about her personally, she said, "You know I love you, Stacey." She had never called me by name before always referring to me as "nurse". With a new and heartfelt understanding of Mrs. Jones "neediness" and tears now welling in my eyes, I said, "I love you too, Mrs. Jones." And I meant it.

Shortly after this exchange, her breathing became labored and eventually stopped. I was holding her hand as she passed peacefully. I called the supervisor and Hospice and her daughter. The aids came in prepared to handle the routine post-mortem care. I asked them to let me do it. I washed Mrs. Jones, changed her gown and her bed and brushed her beautiful white hair.

Mrs. Jones was gone and I realized that I had too long been annoyed by her constant need for attention and never took the time to find out the reason for it. She was a lonely little lady who really looked at the staff who was "bothered" by her as her family. Shame on all of us.

I gained a new perspective on my chosen career. I am a nurse to serve my patients/residents in more ways than I knew. I thank Mrs. Jones every day for teaching me that.

I was very late getting out of work that morning but it was OK. It was my honor to see that Mrs. Jones didn't have to be alone on her journey. Now I remember why I became a nurse. Mrs. Jones changed my life...and in an indirect way, the lives of every patient for whom I have cared since.

LPN. Floor nurse med-surg. Specialty: LTC, Med-Surg, ER

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Thank you for reminding me of one of the most important reasons why many of us find meaning in nursing as a profession: the giving of ourselves and our emotional resources to people in times of desperate need and life crisis. I believe that you and Mrs. Jones gave each other beautiful gifts - you gave her the gift of company, support, and affection while she made her final journey, and she gave you the gift of realization of what "neediness" means in a patient and then finally appreciation for what you gave her!

Specializes in ER.

Thank you for sharing your story. It helps me to remember that all my patients are human and are in need of compassion and love, even though they can be demanding and unappreciative at times. Even right now, as a CT(future RN Class of 09) I try to remember to treat everyone like I would want my mother/father/family to be treated. I try to keep that mental philosphy with me even on the long hard days. Thanks again. Best of luck.

Specializes in Still a medic at heart but ICU, M/S, SVU.

What an amazing story. I have recently come to realize that my residents use to look and act like me. Were not always of old age and could, at one point, take care of themselves. They are beautiful people, and as "annoying" as some can get, all they want is company and to tell their stories.

I feel like more nurses should have an experience like yours to "bring them back" to why they became nurses. Seems like with that empathy, they could start their next shift with a fresh attitude and outlook, maybe reconsider their current job and maybe make a change in their career. It's so sad to hear nurses who hate their job/facility but they stay because of the $$. We have jobs because people get sick and need our help, patience, and COMPASSION. I wonder what ever happend to "do unto others as you would have others do unto you..."??

Just my opinion


~Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work....................Mother Teresa

Specializes in Med/Surg/Ortho/HH/Radiology-Now Retired.

I hope there's a nurse like you around when my time comes!

Bless you!

I want to thank you for taking the time to write your (and Mrs. Jones') story. It made me cry. I don't mean tears welled up in my eyes, but actually poured over and ran freely down my cheeks. It was very touching and an eye opener. I beleive this is a story I will carry with me. :heartbeat

Thank you"Stacie" for sharing this with all of us who are fortunate enough to have logged on to read this article.

I am hopeful that one day I also will be fortunate enough to have a care taker such as you.

God bless...


Compassion is the key to great nursing!!! That is what makes it better than Good.

Specializes in LTC, Med-Surg, ER.

I am overwhelmed and humbled by all of your lovely compliments. Thank you. I love nursing and the wonderful people I have met who have made such an impact on me...both patients and coworkers. Thank you, again. Nursing is the joy of my life.

Specializes in Hospice.

As a hospice nurse what you did for Mrs Jones was wonderful! I am one of the few nurses who actually became a nurse to work hospice from the start. There are a lot of "Mrs Jones'" out there. So many whose family have dropped them off, and never come back. So many who die alone. I am so glad you didn't let that happen for her. Please remember to refer your patients to hospice so they can get extra care! Anyone can make the referral. The hospice will handle the rest. God Bless! Keep up the excellent work. You have said so much in your story. You are truly an angel. :bow:

Thanks so much for taking the time and care to write this. You sounds so thoughtful about your work and so caring. That's an inspiration to me.

Wendy Leebov