How do u deal with death?

I hope and pray that i become a wonderful NICU nurse like the fellow nurses here. You guys and these post give me strength to keep moving towards my true "calling"/dream job. The question i have is how do u look a parent in the eye and tell them that their baby passed or most likely will not make it. i am known to wear my heart on my sleeve. I wonder will i be able to face that situation without tearing up or getting emontional myself. So i decided to ask the experts how to deal with those kind of situations.

thanx for your wisdom and experience

Those are definitely tough situations, but at least on my unit, the physicians and nurse practitioners are the ones who conduct the family conferences where those things are said. The staff nurses do have to support the family before and after those talks though.

It helps me to remember that we can't save everyone. All we can do is provide the best nursing care (which is different from medical care) possible. I also try to keep in mind that even though it's sad for us when a baby dies, our sadness doesn't even compare to the loss felt by the family. In other words, it's the family's crisis, not ours.

As far as specific coping or stress management measures, I think everyone develops individual ones. A certain kind of music or a good workout might help some after a tough shift, while for others it might be a quiet walk.

In our unit the neos. or NNPs tell the parents about their infant's prognosis. A doctor is always present when a baby dies, so they tell the family, not the RN. I ask the family if they have understood what they have been told. We support the family before and after. I still cry when a baby dies, and I have been a NICU nurse for 26 years. It is OK to cry, as long as you do not completely fall apart. You can do that when family leaves. I tell the family that they have done everything they could for their baby. I say that the baby has felt the love surrounding him his entire life, and has heard and been comforted by their voices. I say how very sorry I am that we could not save their baby. And that it was an honor for me to take care of their child. Stay with the family, offer them tissues and ask what you can do to help them. We ask if they are a certain faith, and if they would like to have the baby blessed, dedicated, or baptized. Don't forget the father in this. Often he is trying to be stoic and support the Mom, but you can see the anguish in his face. We never let a baby die alone in their bed. If family is not present to hold the baby, one of the staff nurses will hold him until he passes. We call our hospital chaplain and on-call social worker when there is an imminent death, or if family needs support. And remember that families grieve in different ways. We have had moms fall to the floor screaming, or react by extreme anger and threats towards the staff. We have had families quietly sit and rock their baby for hours after he has died. We allow this, because compared to a lifetime, that is all the time they have to cuddle their child. It is usually the first time they have seen him with no lines or tubes.
How do I cope? It is still difficult. I find comfort in knowing that everything possible was done for that baby. And that the baby has finally been healed, just not here on earth. Staff nurses will talk to one another to get support. Some nurses will share their feelings with family. Know that a whole lot of babies are alive today, that didn't have a chance 10 years ago.

Thanx yappymutts, that really gave me a better insight in those type of situations.

We pretty much do the same as said above as far as who talks to the parents, what is done during/afterwards. One thing that a lot of us on the night shift have done, is all go out to eat pancakes after a rough night like that. We talk about the shift, and it really helps just to talk things out w/ your fellow staff. There isn't always time / the right circumstances to do that while still working and on the unit.

I agree, it's all about what the parents want. Encourage them to spend as much time as possible with thier baby, take pictures and footprints etc. It's ok to cry with parents as they realise you do care, just be aware that this is thier time and you can cry when they have gone. I tend to cry a bit with the parents but hold it together for them and to give my best care for baby, then let it out on the way home.
It's always good if you can talk to other staff from that shift later on, maybe the next day or whenever. A supportive team makes a huge difference.
This happened to me last week and everyone was really supportive, even a smile in the right place helps.
The big boss of my unit - the head consultant- gave me a hug. It's the little things that help you get through it.

Add new comment

More information
  • Files must be less than 2 MB.
  • Allowed file types: png gif jpg jpeg.
More information
  • Files must be less than 2 MB.
  • Allowed file types: zip rar.