Nurse's Watch: Conversations on contemporary nursing,
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~Start date February 2010~

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A death occurred...

A Death Occurred...
A death occurred on the unit today. I had just given my brand new students' their assignments and the code rang out eerily close to where we were standing. I took them to the break room which unfortunately was right across the hall from the code, so the inconsolable cries of the loved one's mother were unavoidable. 

I tried to explain in teacher language what was going on, who responds in a code, the different duties and about the debriefing that will occur. Finally, I hurried them off to care for the other patients but not before the students' eyes were filling with tears. How callous I must have seemed...

As I entered my office this afternoon, my mind wanders back to the floor. I hear the wails of the poor mother, the hustle of nurses, doctors, pharmacists. The wheels of the crash cart. The overhead intercom announcing the code... and I am alone and silent, facing the death of a child I did not know, bearing the sorrow of a mother I did not know, trying to make sense of this moment in life with student's I did not know. 

This is the harsh reality of nursing and caring for people. We step into their life for a moment to minister to them and their loved ones and no matter how smart we are or prepared, there will always be those moments that no matter what happens, we feel so inadequate. But really, who could be adequate for such a situation?

My thoughts and prayers go up for this mother... As nurses we often encounter the extremes in life. The highs and the lows, and we are programmed to handle it and we do, or so we think. Often it is when we are alone that the realization of what has just happened hits us. The realization that a mother just lost her child and it is sad, very sad. 

So, how is it that nurses are able to work under these conditions and still show back up the next day? A friend and mentor once told me that in an emergency, "it is the patient's 'crisis'; we can help them through it with our skills, knowledge and caring or participate in it." 

So, I choose to try and help. At that moment we are their best earthly hope; God has placed us there, then, for a reason. And I am left with the realization that I am thankful for my faith, which guides my thoughts, heart and mind because sometimes there just are no answers....

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