How To Deal With Death In Nursing
By Anna Windemere
The bond that develops between a nurse and her patient can be strong because patients often rely on their nurses for emotional and physical support in order to deal with their affliction. Unfortunately, not every patient survives their illness or injury, despite the quality of care they received. Learning coping mechanisms to deal with the sadness of losing a particular patient will help you to continue working and caring for those who rely on your expertise and compassion.
Recognize that death could be a possible outcome, especially among trauma patients, the chronically ill, the elderly, and those with Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders. By keeping this in mind, a sudden turn for the worse won't catch you off guard emotionally.
Allow yourself to grieve when a patient dies. Do not stifle your emotions. If you don't allow for the grieving process, it could affect your own well-being and your ability to relate to other patients.
Attend voluntary debriefings after the loss of a patient so you can discuss the situation with colleagues and administrators. Talking about the care the patient received, the illness or injury running its course, and how nothing else could have been done to prolong the person's life can alleviate painful feelings and help you transition back into your role.
Take breaks as necessary to deal with waves of emotion. Avoid signing up for extra shifts unless you feel it would serve as a good distraction.
Talk and cry about the situation with co-workers in a nurse's lounge or area that's away from other patients. Fellow nurses will understand your grief.
Alleviate the stress from the ordeal by getting adequate sleep, exercising, and eating nutritiously after your shift. Relax with a hot bath.
Do not blame yourself for a patient's death. Remind yourself that you offered the best care that you could for the patient and that certain things are out of your control.
Express your condolences to family members of the patient. Hug the patient's family members if you feel comfortable and if they appear receptive to it. Share your condolences on the Internet if the family sets up an online obituary through the funeral home.
Pray or meditate if you seek a sense of spirituality or a way to clear your mind. Speak to a clergy member if it would give you more comfort.
Focus on the positive, such as the fun and interesting conversations or interactions you had with the patient. Recall the support that you provided to the patient and his family to validate the important role you play in the medical profession.
Articles in this issue:
- How To Deal With Death In Nursing
- Doctors Throwing Fits
- 4 Truths All Nurses Know
- A Powerful New Form Of Medical Marijuana Without The High
- 7 Things Nurses Need To Know About The Future Of Obamacare
- Dreaded Stomach Flu Wreaks Havoc On Families, And Getting Worse
- Why Does It Take So Long To Recover From Pneumonia?
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Liz Di Bernardo