I work in a nursing home and am an LNA (only for a couple of months now) so this is all new to me. I have seen 4 deaths since I began (which have all been hard for me) but I have a resident that I have been taking care of who I found out today is all of a sudden dying. Just 2 days ago when I worked she seemed…
My parents were killed when I was young and I froze inside for years. I went to a grief counselor who helped me learn to cope. One of the things I still do is write a letter to parents (and I’m 60 years old) telling them what I’m doing and how I’m feeling. You can keep the letters or throw them away. It doesn’t matter. What matters is visiting a counselor and learning how to deal with grief. You might think about what death really means in your belief system. For me, it’s just the next great adventure. Also explore who you are really griefing for–your patients or your own loss. I found I was really grieving for myself. There wasn’t much reason to grieve for my parents. They were already in a better place. Suprisingly, more than 40 years later, they still visit me occasionally in my dreams. It’s always good to see them. You also have to learn about acceptance. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I used to work with cancer patients of all ages. Though some lived longer than others, there were very few that were classified as cured. The average life span of my patients was anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Even in the short amount of time that I was able to care for these people, I did become very attached to most of them. Even at their worst, when they would cuss me out or throw a fit, I did not take it personally. I realized that people face death in different ways, and for some this was their only outlet. I still treated them with respect and compassion, and gave them all the TLC I could muster. I will admit also, that when some of them did die, I shed a few tears, as I was often the last face they saw when they closed their eyes for the last time, and I was the last warm touch they felt as I held their hand. And that’s about all you can do. Give them the best care that you can. Listen to them when they want to talk, and treat them with the utmost respect and dignity. It does after a while, take an emotional toll on the care giver, but all of this is a natural part of life. Just know inside that you did your best and let the higher powers take it from there. When the time comes that you feel burned out and can no longer deal with death, you will know. That’s when it is time to move on.
Look sweetie.. Yu have gotten alot of good answers to your question.. not sure I could add much more. I also worked in a hospital and I have seen death and alot more…I have been with patients who have died.. even set with some who have already expired. I know that I am much older than you but you know what it doesnt matter how old you are its always a sad time to see anyone die..But I know when I die I will be free of pain and I know where I am going ..Yes its a fact of life we are all born to die one day..So I will say if this job bothers you so bad that you can accept death as part of your job then get out. It takes a special kind of person to deal with patients that die.Its not an easy one and it would take a non caring person to not let them bother you. So I really think you are caring and we all need to be taken care of even in death. I would hate that I was there and someone didnt care for me when I was bout to draw my last breath on earth. I’d want someone who would hold my hand and say I love you to know that someone was there to give me peace of mind. We all need care and love and someone there by our bedside saying some small words of kindness be it a prayer or just a smile and saying its ok you can go now..Yes Miracles.. they do happen and I think you are right where YOU need to be..Hope this helps and whatever you decide it will be the right decision.. God go with you sweetie.
I cant handle death very well either..my daughter worked in a nursing home as the hairdresser and she cried all the time…Maybe you should try another profession because I think you get too attached to you patients emotionally and there is nothing wrong with that.The only advice i cant give you about prayer is to pray from your heart God will understand her needs and pray for her comfort in the days to come.If your heart can stand it be there for her I’m sure she has been there for lots of people in her lifetime she shouldn’t be forgotten.God Bless You.
I used to be a live-in private care nurse for the Seniors.
It took me a long time before I
could get used to them dying.
I have since come to realize
that every human being has a
particular life-span (just as
every living creature does.)
Depending on many variables, that lifespan can be
short or very long. It can be
easy or filled with pain.
I finally determined that while any person was in my care, they would get the best
treatment and the most love
anyone could get. when they
went, they went tenderly and
of course, I always asked the Lord to help them across.
For the non-believers, when you come to the end, I can
almost guarantee that you will
cry out for the Lord (it’s automatic.)
A personal note: You cannot
stop death that’s imminent.
Just give it your best shot and
keep your strength for the rest who need you.
Hun, you have seen four deaths. You ARE coping! You are getting upset. Isn’t that better than feeling nothing? If you are with someone when they die, it is a privilege to do so. If you need to, talk about it to someone who will understand. Your boss or work colleges, as they have all been like you at some time.As for prayers, first make sure that they would want that, then decide who you are praying for. Her, or yourself. Sorry this answer may sound a bit harsh, but I tell it like it is. The main thing is that you care. That means a lot. Good luck
If there is a hospice group or a grievance coordinator in your facility there are things you can do to cope with death. As you say you’re relatively new to the field and death no matter how long you work in a nursing home or hospital or with loved is always hard.
You might read a book called On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler Ross which can help you with the process of acceptance of death.
But I really think you should consult with your facility’s grief counsellor or hospice committee first.
The people in the nursing home need YOU. you seem to care. Some don’t. Just hold her hand, make her comfortable and if you wish to pray, pray for the family. Listen to kitty.
Don’t dwell on death. It happens to everyone in the end. I am 83 and it doesn’t scare me a bit.
You don’t need a special prayer. One from the heart is all that matters. Bless you
If you are so affected by the death of strangers, perhaps you should rethink your vocation? The nursing and caring professions do involve a fair bit of contact with death. Unless you can come to see it as part of the job, it may not be for you.
I hope you don’t think I am being harsh or flippant, I have had deaths in the family, but my attitude is that it is a normal occurrence and if you are working with the elderly you are going to see it rather often.
You just said it. You are a beliver in something higher than here and this is just a small part of life. Knowing that someone is finished with their time here on earth and moving onto eternal peace should make you smile. Feel blessed that YOU were somebody that was here to help them on their last days here on earth. Try to remember that death is not an end but a beginning. As far as a prayer,my personal belife is that God hears us so talk to him from your heart and that will be the perfect prayer. Thanks for doing something in life that brings a smile to peoples faces…what a special job.
Hi Believe in Miracles…..
Yes, this is a very tough part of the medical care for elderly, terminally ill, etc…….seeing people we care for pass away.
I could share some of my own personal experiences as a young nurse, but this is not the format for that.
If you connect with me via my email, then I will share more.
However, I feel for you. It is a learning issue just like everything else in life…..each death you will learn a bit more, you will feel a bit more comfortable (but not less sad at the loss, believe me)……
You having a faith of your own, belief in life after death, will help you. You can think of your elderly patients, some of them friends, as being in a better place.
I lost many patients as I eventually did hospice care. I found that in the hospital, when we had dying patients, I would stay in the room with them and their families, whereas many nurses did not want to be near those who were dying.
I think it is a natural fear, to be honest. I just didn’t have the fear; I wanted to help. I felt for the dying person as well as their families.
I am going to send you some websites to look at, and you may find some lovely prayers or poems or little stories to help you through.
There is not a thing wrong with you simply saying a silent or quiet prayer for your patients, though, one of your own words or feelings.
Just as families grieve their loved ones, you will find that you will need some time to grieve the loss of your patients, too.
When you are caring for someone so closely, and you have a heart, you are going to care for these fragile people whose
lives you touch.
So be gentle with yourself as well when you lose one of your “friends.”
God bless you; you sound like a caring LNA—we need more like you!