When Nurses Cry

As nurses, we have an awesome responsibility and privilege to make a positive difference in the lives of patients and families that we care for in sometimes unexpected and almost unbearable life and death experiences.


You are reading page 2 of When Nurses Cry

The thought of me crying in front of a patient scares the hell out of me. I'm a male and I'm not particularly sensitive, but I wonder about things like this and how I will stop myself from doing so. I've always seen crying as a weakness myself, but at the same time I've never worked around terminally ill people so that is definitely something that I have to figure out before actually starting. It's almost a blessing that I'm only a pre-req student at this time and have nearly 2 years to figure it out.

NewbieNeedsHelp... I feel your pain, man. "Pricharilla" from my handle was my dog. I lost her on the 11th one year ago. I've thought about her EVERY day since.


21 Posts

The first time I cried I was a brand new nurse and worked a long weekend on nights. My patient stated she couldn't feel her tongue and I thought she was having an allergic reaction. I caught the doctor in the hall who ran in the room and started screaming she was over sedated and needed narcan. I had not given her any pain medications in over 8 hours and she had been receiving them since surgery 4 days ago. The doctor started screaming at me in front of the patient, family and other people in the room as we were giving the narcan. I cried in the supplies closet.


717 Posts

Specializes in neuro/ortho med surge 4.

I have cried quite a few times at work. The worst for me was the 88 year old man who I was discharging to a rehab facility to get stronger from a fall before going home. His wife who had recently had a stroke was at a LTC facility. He would call her every night and visit her every day when he was home. THe rehab facility was not the same one his wife was at and all he wanted to do was to be with her. He sobbed continuously through the D/C process and while he was being wheeled out the door to be transported by EMS. He just kept saying over and over that he would never see his wife again. I cried with him. I will never foget how heart breaking that was or that patient. I was completely drained for hours after that.

He did eventually need LTC and was able to be placed in the same facility with his wife.

THe other thing that kills me is when I see sons and daughters crying over their elderly parents. It reminds me of just how special our mothers are and how much they are loved. I usually tear up with them.

uRNmyway, ASN, RN

1 Article; 1,080 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg.

I think there is nothing wrong with shedding a few tears with our patients. It shows we are human, and it shows we care. Now, there is a different from a complete breakdown where the family/patient has to hold YOU up or a few tears and a hug in support. I dread the day that I no longer get emotional and cry a bit at work. Some cases just affect us more than others. Whether it is because we relate to a patient and/or their family for whatever reason, or because we got to know them and particularly care about them and are genuinely feeling a loss.

On another note, in my L/D clinicals, when I witnessed my first spontaneous vaginal delivery, I cried a little at the sheer beauty of the moment, and felt no shame at all. (unfortunately the little one ended up needing much help afterwards because of problems with dystocia, but she ended up fine. Her parents' expressions of utter fear were awful to see though.)

I am a new nurse working in a Health and Rehab Center. I have often cried at he death of a resident or at the aching in their hearts to "go home". It breaks my heart to see the ones that never get a visit and to see the ones who have come to accept they are there for the long haul and have given up. So, you see I sometimes cry at the heartache I see.

My fellow nursing friends who have been doing this for years tell me I need to toughen up but I dont think I want to toughen up. I am afraid I will get cold hearted if I do. What do you think?


1 Post

Thanks for the article, since nurses are facing many situations which they are totally different, such as birth and death. Adapting with these situations sometimes makes no passion appears with the patient's family, because it becomes a habit, so i am totally agree with showing the emotions towards the patient and family, this really makes a difference with them, supporting their feelings can really enhance the tolerance of the situation itself.

gonzo1, ASN, RN

1,739 Posts

Specializes in ED, ICU, PSYCH, PP, CEN. Has 20 years experience.

I spent several years in the ER and now ICU. I have seen doctors cry, firemen cry, EMS, nurses and all the rest. At first it is hard to control your emotions, but as time goes on you learn to get the job done, then cry. I gotta say, there is nothing more gut renching then seeing a fireman cry. But I have nothing but respect for those who cry.

Most of us agree that when you don't cry anymore then you should probably get out


398 Posts

Specializes in PCU. Has 17 years experience.

Your article was very well written and evocative. Thank you for sharing.


717 Posts

Specializes in neuro/ortho med surge 4.


I would love you to be able to take care of my mother if she was ever placed in a LTC facility. I agree it is heartbreaking. Being sensitive is a beautiful thing in this world. Don't worry about what the other nurses say. Believe me, patients can tell when you really care.

As a Sun-Acute nurse and having been a LTC CNA for many years in the past, I find myself sometimes walking a fine thin line when trying to remain unattached to those I care for. The key words being "care for". My patients are my focus and their families become my partners in the care of my patient. In some ways we become family-like. They share their lives with me and their fears. I laugh with them and cry with them. This relationship can last for weeks or years and bonds are formed. I have been blessed in that each experience has made me a stronger nurse and better human being.

We are just as human as those we care for, and we do cry. Some of us cry a lot, some hide the tears. Dealing with patients that somehow strike a chord in our hearts is just part of the job, an occupational hazard, as it is. There's a terrible stigma with showing sadness in nursing sometimes, yet, we also smile. You just can't have one emotion without the other, even if they're all hidden under a "business" exterior.


47 Posts

Specializes in L&D/NICU/Pediatrics.

Thanks for sharing..really needed to read this today!