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 5 of When Nurses Cry


102 Posts

First ever Pt was a full code coming in, we did everything we could, I just remember walking into a room to help someone else out, walking out and seeing the stretcher, had to hold back tears.


43 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

In nursing school, I was taught it was ok to cry with the family as long as it was about them and not you. So a few tears are okay, but you shouldn't be upset to the point where they might feel like YOU need to be comforted - or at least not in front of them. I don't cry in front of the families in the NICU, because if I start, it's hard for me to stop. I will let them see I'm holding back tears. I concentrate on giving their baby who has moved on the best ending I can manage by making hand and footprints, giving them a gentle bath, wrapping them up, and carrying them downstairs to the morgue myself. I save my tears for when I'm curled up in my bed that night.

Nancy G.

1 Post

We all cry.....not human if we don't. I could be that "tough as nails" ER nurse during any, and I mean ANY situation. But when it was over, I would hide behind the curtain and cry my eyes out. Can't count how many times I've done that.

BeenThere2012, ASN, RN

1 Article; 852 Posts

Specializes in PICU, Pediatrics, Trauma.

Thank you for sharing your story. As a nurse for more than 30 years, in school we were taught not to cry and not to show our own emotion while caring for our patients. One day a therapist told me it is okay to cry and that holding back such strong emotions is detrimental to our health, and ability to stay present. I have seen the burnout Nurses and Doctors go through who do not express how they feel or even allow themselves to feel. From that day on, I allowed myself to cry and did so many, many times over the years. Especially when there are no adequate words to comfort the pain families and patients feel, when you cry with them, you not only are showing them how you feel, but that you care very much about their suffering. You show them that you are right there with them and are invested in their outcomes. I believe this promotes trust and more importantly, brings them comfort in knowing all that could be done was done. It helps to bring a finality to their situation and allows the grieving process to begin.


32 Posts

It's such a good point you make here. Keeping the "human"ness in nursing. Though I have often heard about my communication" skills from bosses and back in the day, instructors. I stand by them to do this day 20+ years later and counting. I currently work in psych and I love it.. and though some of my "Skills" developed in the hospital they were fine tuned in psych. And actually there is no "skill" to it.. it's simply being invested and engaged. And when I am working with a patient.. they never doubt my honesty or sincerity . Ok not every pt 100% of the time.. but when it's time. I believe in smiles and laughing. Sometimes during the toughest of times..has anyone ever not relaxed even a bit when smiling? Yes professionalism needs to be maintained but that doesn't mean being unapproachable. Little things like pulling up a chair to the bedside to do your teaching or pain assessment or whatever ( when you can) makes a difference. A touch on a foot (when you are standing at the foot of the bed) or arm or smile..listening actively ( even though sometimes it's difficult when multi tasking or yes this is the 14th time you heard the story)be engaged .. and when something like was shared in the story happens, be human . ( no that doesn't mean falling to the floor and keening and wailing) but be real. Yes they are our "pts" but the bottom line is they are people with lives and feelings and even if you are "scolding" oh Mr jones , you know that 5 candy bars and 2 bags of chips and a liter of coke isn't good for your diabetes . Let them know you are engaged and they are not infringing on your time or nerves..but even then, I have started many times with. A heartfelt "you're killing me here" What do I need to do to help you be successful? We aren't better than they are we're here to help. We are all peeps! I have worked with many younger newer nurses for whom nursing is a job, a way to make a good living they do their time, they go home. Period. And people feel that. Haven't you been in a situation where where whoever you're dealing with is only going through the motions, you don't like whatever ok. If you are going or are a nurse who wants to help people help people! That's Joe in 306a not the appy, that's Abbie, her voices are bad today.

Mans I guess I could probably delete all of the above and mention the quote or statement that loosely states, people don't remember what you did, they remember how you made them feel..

and recently I heard this : don't treat people like YOU want to be treated, treat them the way THEY want to be treated ( more figurative than literal)

keep the heart in nursing

gonzo1, ASN, RN

1,739 Posts

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

Reading all these makes me once again appreciate what a wonderful group of people nurses are. I am so thankful I'm with you all in this profession.

Kitiger, RN

1,811 Posts

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 44 years experience.
In nursing school, I was taught it was ok to cry with the family as long as it was about them and not you. So a few tears are okay, but you shouldn't be upset to the point where they might feel like YOU need to be comforted - or at least not in front of them.

This is it, in a nutshell (my bold). In the back of my head, I remember that the family is hurting, perhaps overwhelmed, and I am here to help them.

My emotions show through - as they should - but I have learned how to help people who are going through these hard times. I can be spontaneous, but not thoughtless.