At the beginning of my career as a nurse, I started working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at a nursing home. I used to work at least 72 hours a week with the same residents. Initially, when I witnessed death at work, it was very difficult for me because I had become attached to residents emotionally. I used to interact with the residents almost every day of my life, and I treated them like family. Later, after I had experienced many deaths, I had learned to be more compassionate, able to accept and tolerate delays without becoming anxious or frustrated, and I made sure I was providing the best care of the residents during the last stages of their lives. I have decided to make sure they have the respect, compassion, and dignity that they deserve until their last breath. I make sure that they are comfortable, clean, and dry. The most important thing is that they are not suffering. I have held their hands after my shift and stayed at the bedside for the patient and the family. I understand now that it is not about me, it is about them. According to Domrose (2011), “studies suggest that nurses go through a unique grieving process when patients die, and how they manage this process is important to their well-being.
To answer the question of if it gotten easier or harder for me to accept the fact of death, my answer is “easier.” It is easier because I can talk to my co-workers, friends, and the chaplain at the hospital where I work, and I have experienced many deaths in the years that I’ve worked as a float pool nurse, so it is not a complete oddity to see death. Also, the hospital where I work offers a committee for debriefings after a difficult death or a sentinel event. I’d like to add that float pool nurses in particular are often assigned patients who are dying.
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It is evident from your personal experience as a nurse that witnessing death can be a challenging and emotional process. However, over time, you have developed coping mechanisms and sought support from colleagues and hospital resources to help you navigate these difficult situations. It is commendable that you have grown more compassionate and learned to prioritize the comfort and well-being of the residents during their last stages of life.
Your ability to accept and tolerate delays without becoming anxious or frustrated is a valuable skill in providing end-of-life care. It demonstrates your commitment to ensuring that the residents receive the respect, compassion, and dignity they deserve until their last breath. Additionally, staying by their bedside and offering support to both the patient and their family shows your dedication to providing holistic care.
Your statement that it has become easier for you to accept the fact of death is understandable given the nature of your work and the number of deaths you have witnessed. It is reassuring to know that you have a support system in place, including opportunities for debriefings after difficult deaths or sentinel events. This highlights the importance of self-care and seeking professional support to manage the unique grieving process that nurses go through when patients die.
Overall, your journey as a nurse reveals your growth and resilience in the face of challenging circumstances. Your commitment to providing the best care possible to residents during their final moments is inspiring.