Topic 4: Death, Dying, and Grief
QUESTION: How often do you engage with or witness death in your work? How has this experience or the lack of it shaped your view of death? Has it gotten easier or harder for you to accept the fact of death? As you explain, include your clinical specialty.
Hoehner, P., J. (2020). Death, Dying and Grief: An Introduction to Christian Values and Decision Making in Health Care. https://lc.gcumedia.com/phi413v/practicing-dignity-an-introduction-to-christian-values-and-decision-making-in-health-care/v1.1/#/chapter/4 .
Student Response #1
|Jessi Crowell Topic 4 DQ 1
In my current place of work, I have experienced death. Not physically on my unit per say, but prior to arrival when expecting a patient to come from the operating room (OR). I work in the post anesthesia care unit, and we have a board that shows the progress of time for surgery so we know when to expect patients and assign nurses to care for them. In the last couple of months we have experienced multiple patients expiring during surgery, and are notified by the OR staff when that patient will not be making it to our unit. This is very difficult at times because some of these procedures are considered “simple” or “basic” with the patients being young in age sometimes.
These experiences have helped to shape my view on death in that I now know how unpredictable life can be. Death has been mentioned to be unavoidable and uncontrollable, and these situations have seemed to prove this in my eyes to be true (Hoehner, 2020). I view death to be inevitable, but I don’t choose to view it as a negative thing. With life comes death, it is a constant relationship that all people experience and have to think about. How I perform my job in serving others is affected by my view of death in that I wish to live my life as humbly as possible. There are many scary scenarios presented on my unit, and expiring during surgery is considered one of the most tragic.
I feel that it has gotten easier accepting the fact of death and dying. My experiences as a nurse from each of the units I have worked, including the one I’m currently on, have provided some insight on this sobering truth. I don’t feel that people should live without a clear conception of this topic. We all have the basic right to believe what we want, practice as we see fit, and live to thrive along with helping others to do the same.
Student Response #2
|Chiamaka Ezeh Re: Topic 4 DQ 1
How often do you engage with or witness death in your work? How has this experience or the lack of it shaped your view of death? Has it gotten easier or harder for you to accept the fact of death? As you explain, include your clinical specialty.
When I worked in a long-term care facility, I experienced more deaths than when I moved to the hospital setting. I have experienced quite a lot of deaths, from chronic conditions to dying from a fall. Death and dying can be very difficult and stressful for every family because they just lost or is in the process of losing a loved one. Emotions are all over the place and people are in various stages of grief. Hoehner, P., J. (2020)
The biggest experience that stood out for me was when I was still in nursing school in Nigeria, and we were doing our clinical rotations and I was assigned to the Emergency Department. They had just brought in a lot of casualties from a car crash and this one man who was already dead on arrival was just laying there almost like he was sleeping. To me, he didn’t look dead at all. His wife shows up an hour later, heavily pregnant, and was asking me about her husband, and there were so many people, everyone was busy, and I told her that I don’t know what her husband looked like but to give us a little while to ID people. She left and started searching for her husband among the casualties brought in, she came back later and told me that she has found her husband but wasn’t sure if he was sleeping because he wouldn’t answer her. Because he didn’t have any blood stains or any physical signs of trauma, she believed that the doctors must have given him something that sedated him.
I stood there for a good 2 minutes and couldn’t figure out what to tell this pregnant woman, so I eventually had to agree with her because I knew I wasn’t supposed to be the one telling her that her husband was brought in dead. So, I told her to wait in the waiting area to talk to the doctors. I overheard her telling someone on the phone that her husband was sleeping and that she was just waiting to talk with one of the doctors. A little while later I heard her scream so loud and then I realized that the doctor had told her of her husband’s demise, she was on the floor crying so hard I think she went into labor from there. Till today I haven’t been able to forget that experience.
My heart sank and I didn’t even know when I started crying. This experience changed my view on death, it thought me that nothing lasts forever in this world, so I began to appreciate every day of my life.
As I grew older, I realized that death has no power at all, because it is our only way to transition to the afterlife. The body we are living in will only last for a while, but our true spirits will return to God our owner knowing that we are not from this world. I think death will be less scary and easier to deal with if we view life as a mission or an assignment. When our time is up, we return home to our Lord and live in his kingdom. I am currently a med surge/advanced care nurse working in the ED step-down unit.
Student Response #3
|Faith Idiegbe Topic 4 DQ 1
Death is unavoidable for all. If there is a beginning, there must still be an end, which is known as death. This is a common occurrence in the field of oncology.(Kaufman, S. (2005). As a Nurse there is a feeling of empathy when a patient dies on your watch be it that the patient is in Hospice or in a critical condition, that death is inevitable the Nurse grieves alongside the loved one of that patients even more so if they do not have any family member present.
This ultimately pessimistic, if not cynical, view of death remains a part of much of modern rationalistic and materialistic culture and contributes directly to contemporary and seemingly conflicting attitudes toward death, including denial, fear and foreboding, helplessness and hopelessness, heroic acquiescence, and ultimately, attempts to autonomously master and control the timing and means of the end of one’s own existence (Smith, Harvath, Goy, & Ganzini, 2015). The end of it all is death, it’s the saddest truth.
The people who work in these departments (nursing professionals) often feel and perceive death as an unpleasant occurrence. This knowledge will affect one’s mind in such a way that bad lifestyle factors, hereditary factors, and being the read on for developing a disease like this and dying play a key role, (Kastenbaum, R., & Moreman, C. M). A lack of information about the disease disorder can emotionally affect a person by seeing a dying victim who has no sensation or awareness of their surroundings. These types of events, as well as an individual’s view of mortality and its existence, can lead to acceptance of the fact of death, (Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L).
The first time I witness death in my facility was with a patient, He was admitted months ago with advance colon cancer in the Nursing Home, and His illness was being managed by the Doctor. And out of the blue one morning, He c/o (complain of) terrible stomach pain 10/10 on a scale of 0-10, the facility doctor signed an order to take him to the ER, after few days at the hospital He was discharged to the facility on Hospice care, I never thought He was going to go that fast, He was put on Morphine from the hospital, He couldn’t eat and couldn’t talk, after two days the patient started making that gurgling sound, and as a Nurse you are trained of that sound, that death is eminent, the facility doctor was notified and the seeing and hearing the patient, gave the order to call the family, and inform Hospice. The patient died that Night. We went to the patient’s funeral the family especially wanted the Nurses that cared for their father present.
The Heidelberg Catechism, written almost 500 years ago, remains one of the most cherished explanations of the historic Christian faith. The first question of the catechism is, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” The answer begins, “That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ” and continues to affirm that “all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”
As a Nurse, every patients death experienced is one too many, because the patient was cared for by you, you have laughs together and they commended you for taking care of them so when they pass, it brings comfort when the Nurse advocate for the patient, for the facility to allow the family all the time they need to grief and not immediately want them to clear the patients room. Attend the funeral if possible because that is a closing moment for the nurse too.