End of Life Care: Dealing with the Death of a Patient
25% of hospital beds are currently occupied by patients on end of life care.
When does it become easier to deal with the death of a patient?
Does it actually get any easier? And how is “easier” measured? I’ve been in the nursing profession for over 13 years now: 3 years as a student nurse and over 10 years as a qualified nurse.
I’ve witnessed many deaths, some were unexpected and some are too painful to think about, but the majority of them were expected deaths. But I still can’t deal with patients deaths. Am I too emotional.? Am I too sympathetic?
Too empathetic, maybe? How come I almost always break down when informing patients families of their deaths? Will there come a time when I will become too used to death of patients that I won’t shed a tear?
Do I really want that time to come? Death of any patients is painful, whether young or old.
I think of them as family members so their deaths do hit me, probably more than it should. But what sort of nurse or healthcare professional will I be if I became numb to the death of patients?
I do not want to have a nonchalant attitude to death. I do not want to become or feel detached from the realities of nursing patients at the end of their lives.
What I do want is to be able to help patients or residents transition into the next life by making them as comfortable as possible: by holding their hands and talking to them; putting on their favourite music or TV show in background; surrounding them with their favourite things and giving them the end of life medications that will help ease their sufferings such as pain, agitation and excess secretions on their lungs.
I want to be able to explain to the families when the time comes that their mum or dad or grandad went peacefully in their sleep.
That their relative did not suffer, because my colleagues and I gave them the appropriate End of Life Care including end of life medications in a timely manner. I am a nurse who feels the pain of my patients and their families and that’s how I want to carry on.
Their pains are my pain. Their joys are my joy.