What do you do when a patient dies?

Image Source Photography | Veer

We live in a culture where most people rigorously avoid talking about death, much less witnessing it firsthand. Over the course of a lifetime, the average person may be present at the bedside of one or two very close family members in their last moments. Depending on how long a person lives and the size of their social circle, they may attend a few dozen funerals.

In contrast, nurses are faced with death and all the emotional turmoil that comes with it over and over at work. Whether you serve in a hospice setting, OR, ED or ICU, there is no escaping these events. Even if you aren’t physically present at the side of your patient when he passes, hearing that he didn’t make it is still difficult.

Next: It’s Okay to Grieve →

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3 Responses to What do you do when a patient dies?

  1. heartofanurse11

    I have been a LPN for almost 4 months now, within that time span I have had approx 12 residents pass and 4 of them were so close to my heart and still are. I cried, I let it out but I realized that they were in a better place. Being in a LTC facility makes death a common thing but not one that gets easier with time.

  2. Pamela Rossano

    As an L+D RN when we have a stillbirth we have an organized standard of care. I find it difficult after having family see and hold baby and do pictures, footprints and all the comforting we do to wrap the baby for burial and cover the little ones face. So I make sure the baby is dressed in diaper t shirt a baby blanket and I say Prayers for the baby + the family as i cover the babies little face before I bring the baby to the morgue. I do try to attend the funeral and many times the doctor will meet me their or at the cemetary. I can’t tell you how grateful the family is to see us. I never never go to the social after. I feel like I have seen the little one on their way and then go on my way with hugs to the family.

  3. wkcocch

    I have attended funerals & sent many cards etc as a RN. I’m now in the dilemma of my current employer (hospital) policy that we CAN NOT do these things d/t pt family privacy. ONLY the Chaplains can send cards.

    I personally feel this is a terrible policy for our families. They have NO support from the ones who cared for their family. Especially since ED deaths are usually unexpected & traumatic for the family.

    Anyone else with these new issues of “privacy” being a block to truly caring for the family?