When A Nurse Says Goodbye

nurse crying

Just the other day, I was asked, “How do you sleep at night?” by the friend of a patient who was dying.  But I was not asked nicely.  I was asked very sarcastically because I was one of the participants in the bearer of bad news.  “There is nothing else we can do.  Your loved one is going to die.”

Nurses don’t enjoy being the “bad guy.”  And we don’t “enjoy” having to agree with the bad news just given to the loved ones of those dying.  The truth is, every one of us would love nothing more than to see you get that miracle you are praying for.   But we would rather be the bearers of bad news that the encouragers of false hopes.

Twelve-hour shifts – Often several of them in a row, with breaks only long enough for a drive home, a shower, and a “nap” before returning to care for very sick people all over again.  Exhausting!  And not only physically – But emotionally as well.

You see, we may leave our charting at work.  But we bring our worries home with us.

“Did I miss anything?”   “Was there anything else I could have done for her today?”   And at 2 a.m., when we wake up for a moment in the night, our thoughts immediately as we look at the clock return to your loved one – “Gosh, I wonder how she’s doing tonight.”

We know every inch of our patient’s skin.  We know how they react to our touch, how they respond to each one of their family members, and know how they will respond to their medications.  We watch people go in and out of the rooms, and we very protectively question them – “Who are you?”  “Did you need something?”    Or to technicians who enter our room “What are you doing with my patient?”  We turn them, tuck them in with soft pillows, rub their feet with lotion, cover them snuggly, reassure them, caress their forehead, and tell them it’s going to be okay.

And we tell them goodbye.

Often some of the most intimate moments are behind curtains with the door closed.  We really do care for your loved ones.  Nurses are people too.  We are mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, brothers, and sisters.  And we too, have lost loved ones.  We know what a breaking heart feels like, and when your loved one is dying, and we have had the privilege of caring for them – Our heart gets another ache in it, and it often causes us to recall loved ones we miss dearly!

So, we close the curtain.  We caress their forehead, hold their hand.  We look them in the eye and we say, “You did a good job.  You are a GOOD mom!  A GOOD dad!  And your kids are going to be okay!”   What a privilege it is to care for your loved one…..

I missed saying goodbye to the family member of my patient the other day, because I was off the floor when he left.  I sooo regret missing seeing him off, because he was so appreciative and kind.   I would have liked to say goodbye.

So, because I was unable to tell him – I’d like to tell anyone who has ever told a nurse that they appreciated her (or him) – Here is what I would have told him…..

Thank you!   Thanks for the honor of caring for your loved one.  Thank you for acknowledging me and not being angry at me because of the horrible prognosis we hated giving  you.  Thank you for having the courage and strength to honor your loved one’s wishes and letting them go with dignity, and comfort, and peace!

Thank you, for treating ME kindly.

We nurses care for ALL of our patients.  But sometimes, there are just some who we will never, ever forget.

And remember that very last “turn” with the curtain drawn and the door closed?  That just might have been, when the nurse said goodbye…..

when nurses say goodbyenurse crying

 

 

 

433 thoughts on “When A Nurse Says Goodbye

  1. foxyferchak

    Having been a hospice nurse for several years, I can say that you captured the essence totally. I appreciate your thoughts. Nurses run on empty many shifts, but we always try to give give give. Very few acknowledge us or our endless sacrifices and giving. Thank you for doing so here.

    1. ken

      I worked for a medical supply company ,one day i was delivering some equipment to a patients home and i was joking around and having a great time with the patient who just got word he wasn’t going to be here much longer .the family ask the hospice nurse if they could get me to come by more often just to see their daddy smile all the time with what time he had left.So i agreed to do this but I get to close to people and hate to see someone die,this man told me he wished the world was more like me always laughing and cutting up,first thing that came to my mind and i said it to him was the world is just like me they just don’t know how to let it out, he said I love you ken thank you for making a dying man happy again, with a big smile on his face he took his last breath and died with a smile still on his face .this man touch ed my heart so much,but it was hard for me to keep going to peoples houses and watching them pass that i had to leave that type of work.but to this day i still try to make people happy just by joking with them and making them smile

      1. Sonya

        I can completely understand how hard that was for you. But, I am so incredibly proud of you for doing what you could to help that family and their loved one. Obviously, he became a loved one of your own. I understand why you left your line of work also. When my little brother died, I worked in a call center, and when my customers would call in and tell me their heartbreaking stories, I would have to get off the phone because I was crying. I became so emotional. I eventually left that job as well. And, at this point in my life, I just want a simple job, nothing emotional. Because I still cry too much.

        I wish you well on all of your future endeavors. Please take care of yourself.

        1. Elizabeth

          This world tells you and makes you believe you cry too much, and I want to tell you that you don’t! I have been told plenty of times “I cry too much” and it’s a sign of weakness. I disagree completely!! It is a sign of strength, compassion and love! If you are crying with your patients families, coworkers, etc… You are allowing them the honor to see just how deep your love and devotion runs… And it is also a healthy release of something that, if kept bottled up, could eventually erupt in a bad way!
          I am a vet tech and an MST (we work along side RNs dealing w/patient care, blood draws and ekgs). I cry with families and patients all the time! As a vet tech, I see so many patients and families at their lowest moments… And I’ve been thanked soooo many times for crying with them bc they knew they weren’t alone and how it was a comfort knowing someone that compassionate was caring for their beloved companion. So… Cry and cry hard. Show the world that you are compassionate! Don’t let this world convince you that you are weak or “soft”… But don’t let sadness consume you. Praying for you

          1. Linda

            As a trauma critical care nurse I 100% agree with you! I am human with a heart n soul that feels. Sharing this with families allows them comfort of seeing n feeling the compassion most of us nurses have! 35 yrs = a hell of a lot of tears!

        2. Sue Steiner

          I dearly appreciate the ones who stay and not become bitter, and also understand the leaving. I am kind of in the middle myself right now. I work with kids at a rehab center and some (most) have some kind of chronic health problem- anywhere from cancer, to TBIs, cerebral palsy to car accidents or abuse. You get attached to them. Most of the time I get to watch them improve and overcome obtacles but its not a given. Last week was a tough week and today I am exhausted.

        3. Rose

          Try not to be hard on yourself for crying “too much”. It’s a good thing to be empathetic – it’s why many of us are good at these types of jobs. We can understand people because we can put ourselves in their shoes. But it’s true that when you’re very empathetic everything hurts you. Even watching sad news stories affects me. One of the reasons I don’t watch awful videos and perhaps one of the reasons I’ve moved from Psychiatry after 10 years to Midwifery and Breastfeeding help. It’s amazing to help in the happy moments sometimes too.

      2. Cindy Hallbeck

        Too bad you had to leave your job Ken … but I totally understand. It really is too bad that there are not more people like you. Kuddo’s to you, It takes a strong person to be able to do what you did. Keep smiling … :-)

      3. melissa taylor

        This is almost the same exact story of a man that delivered oxygen supplies to my dying grandfather in taylorsville ky by the way I am a nurse now

      4. Shauna McDaniel

        They will never forget you for that. You obviously made a big impact on that family and they made a big impact on you too. Not many professions have the opportunity to do that. I consider it an honor.

      5. Carie Nydza

        I understand how you feel Ken. My goal for everyday of my life has been to make a difference in someone’s life. Some days it may be life changing. Some days it is as simple as causing them to smile. In any case, no matter how small, there is a positive change, if only for that moment. There have been people who have been in my life for a short time who have actually come back and thanked me for this. Success!

        1. ynot2nite1ken

          In every thing i do I feel like God put me here to help people remember how to smile so everyday I try to make everyone I come in contact with ,put a smile on their face,whether it be a joke or do something to make them laugh if a day goes by that I haven’t done that, I feel like I have failed .But there is always tomorrow I hope and Pray

      6. Donna gatsoulis

        What a difference you made in his life! Thank God you continue to do this, just not at that type of job! God bless you!

      7. susan mcmahon

        ken you are a very special man and that gentleman gave you a very special honor by dying right after he thanked you as a nurse of forty-two years i was at the bedside of many patients when they passed but only one episode even comes close to that and i thought that was an honor but you really made that mans passing so much easier i wish you all the best and hope you continue to spread joy to others ty and god bless

      8. Mary Neville

        Perhaps you should consider nursing as a career. I am not being sarcastic, we need humor and compassion. I have been a nurse and a nursing instructor for years, and I can tell you that we need more people like you.

        1. ynot2nite1ken

          believe it or not I thought about it when i was younger but I am lazy when it came to studying for test and such ,now i made A’s and B’s in school ,I just wanted to join the navy when I graduated and become a mechanic that is what i done .when i got out of the Navy with a medical discharge i went to work as a mechanic until I got sick again then went to work for Med South in Alabama after a year there my health was better and I had to leave per my story ,I went back to mechanic work I always feel thats is where God wanted me to be because I was always able to help people stranded on the road and save customers money by cutting the labor cost as much as I could.Then I had my heart attacks and just recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and copd.I believe that is another thing that God as dealt me with so i can stay home and play and take care of my 3 grandchildren which is the biggest blessings in my life ,not counting my wife I had to put her in line behind the grandkids lol.But she will always know where she is in my heart 30 years and counting. And one other thing all nurses and all people have the ability to make everyone smile and be happy no matter what is going on in someones life they just have to learn and know how to let it out and let it shine,if one likes to laugh and have fun they can do it.I pray for everyone out there to one day be able to do just that.

      9. Lisa Romig

        You are obviously ones of gods angels send from heaven to help people go in piece …You are truly a gift to anyone you come in contact with God bless you Ken love Lisa…

    2. Nicole

      God bless you being a hospice nurse. I myself am a neonatal nurse practitioner and yes I’ve had my fair share of death, I still feel grateful for those like you who took care of my aunt who was dying of lung cancer in hospice.

    3. sandy roberts

      thank hospice nurses for being there for my sisters and i , when our dad suffered a stroke in April, and passed 5 days later, they were with us all the way….always comforting and loving made us feel thst it was ok to say goodbye dad…Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

    4. Mag jaxon

      Ditto,
      Said goodbye to too many
      Top picture’s real, bottom picture’s posed to pull heart strings. Nurses don’t stand in the corridor and weep. They carry the hurt in their heart while they push the med cart and chart the next patient. Until they are alone in private they exhale the genuine feelings. Nurses are some of the best advocates for your loved ones. Treat them as such ❤️

      1. Jackie

        Not always, I lost a patient last week that I tried so hard to save and it was all I could do to make it out of the room into the hallway before I fell apart. I care for all my pts as best as I can, but some really touch your heart and you’ll never forget them.

      2. RNC, CHPN

        In reality,
        I don’t stand in the corridor and weep: I am usually right inside the med room crying my eyes out. Or hugging a family member of my patient, who is holding on to me. There are times when it does more than touches you. There are times when I am leaning against the rail in the hall and tears are just falling. I am past being stoic. I am in the moment with the people who need me. The paper work will get done but in that sudden moment between life and the death I am a compassionate human. And not afraid to show it. After 38 years as a nurse, I know it is important to be involved and then let it go.

    5. Ben MSISKA

      Ken, you are awesome. We need more of your kind. I’m a Crisis Care Nurse and you raise a very good point. Even as death is a sad transition, it should not be made so sad & regretful for the main actor. Let me them go on knowing that they left strong able bodied individuals able to carry on their torch & legacy.

    6. lillian schlesinger

      Having had a 40 year career in acute surgical nursing and a six year career in hospice nursing, I found I always had to make sure that I didn’t become one of the grievers at the bedside of a dying patient. The family and patient need
      a care giver to give them strength, not another mourner. Dealing with my own feelings had to be done on my own time.

    7. Corey

      When my mother was on her death bed even though most of the family was there. The nurses were always there looking after her. I have so much respect for all nurses out there. Your job is so demanding on its own let along what you do after your shift is done. You are all angels in disguise. I appreciate everything you do

    8. Blake

      Hospice nurses can really comfort a family. The nurses that took care of my mom were so nice. It must be difficult to know that every patient you have is there to die. I wish I would have thanked them, but just left crying when my mom died.

    9. Elainor Ray

      I have been a hospice nurse for 11 years. This piece touched my heart immensely. Thanks for capturing the essence if the day to day in snd out actions. More than just movements but emotional tasks. Kudos!

  2. Alexandra L. Nagel

    I have been an ICU nurse for 21 years now, and have seen my share of the smiles, relieved sighs, the happiness apparent in people’s faces when they hear the good news that their loved one is definitely getting better. And I also have seen oceans of tears, the accusatory looks directed at us for letting them down and not making their loved ones get better. I have been treated as a lowly maid by some, made to feel bad by many and told I wasn’t doing a good enough job of taking care of my patients.

    If I haven’t shed tears with you openly when you lost a loved one, it certainly doesn’t mean that your loss has not affected me to the core of my being. It just means that after being a critical care nurse for all these years, I have learned to bury my own feelings while I am at work, so I can work efficiently caring for my other patients. Little do you know that on my lonely drive home, my heart is aching with you for your loss, my eyes dry of unshed tears in your behalf, my whole being yearning to have given you the good news you wanted to hear.

    Please understand, nurses may be smiling and even laughing, but please don’t assume we are being callous and unfeeling. We carry your burden of loss in addition to our own personal burdens in our shoulders. Many of us go home to pets, nobody to talk to, not a one to listen to our own loads.

    A simple “thank you” or even just a smile, would make us feel better so we can carry on and come back lighter in spirit to continue caring for our sick patients the best way we can.

    1. laura

      Wow, that was powerful! Thank you for explaining so thoroughly and accurately my feelings when at a loss of words to describe it myself.

    2. Cassey Botter

      wow that was beautifully said…I have been a CNA for 6 years and I have witnessed first hand how losing a loved one effects others. I always try and put myself in the families shoes and think about how I’m caring for their loved one.I imagine it’s my parents or grandparents even my siblings that I’m taking care of and I give them all the best care and respect that I can. I love taking care of and helping people and I can definitely say If your heart is not in it than your in the wrong profession. I have lost a lot of dear and special people to me over the past few years including my parents and grandparents. It’s a pain that never goes away but one that helps me console my residents families when they lose their loved ones. Anyone working in the medical field has a hard job but I believe God created us to be special angels for all our patients and residents who need us on a daily basis.

      1. Christina

        I agree. Ive been a CNA for 4 years we deal with a lot. I love everyb one of my residents like my very own family. And its hard losing a loved one and thats exactly what my residents are family.

      2. mystikreader

        I to am a CNA. I have been for 13 yrs now. I love what I do and consider my residents to be an extension of my own family. I have heard it all. I’m not doing enough or not doing it fast enough. I have also heard thank you for taking the time to make mom hair,face,whatever up like she likes it. I have sat with patients while they were dying and cry for them often. I once held the head of a man who wanted to not be alone and was holding his head as he drew his last breath. I will never forget him. About a month ago I ran into the daughter of a former patient in the bank. I’m sure the people their thought we were odd because we stood there hugging and crying. Her mother was a sweet special person with a quick wit even at her lowest points. Before she left, she gave me a picture of her mom and dad(also passed) and told me that she thought of me as one of the family andsaid thank you for making her mom’s time happy and beautiful. It was nice to hear that I had made such an impact. You are right when you say that your heart must be in it to do this kind of work.

        Jen

    3. Mikaylas mom

      Yes…you are so right. Being a new nurse, I find myself being a little more raw..(in private). Seeing death more than you’d like to is hard for anyone and without the support of someone to listen who understands what you are going to makes it so hard for them to understand.

    4. Sandy

      My husband was in ICU in Miami for about 2 years on and off. The nurses that worked there were some of the greatest nurses I ever met. They treated me and my husband like family. There were some nurses there that were not so nice, so we stayed very positive and said we only wanted certain nurses to take care of Eddie. The care he received was some of the best I have seen I am a CNA and worked in hospitals and saw how different nurses can be. At the end of his life the parade of nurses that came through his room to say their goodbyes was so overwhelming and you felt their pain as well as yours because they would tell me he was like their family member.They made me feel so happy that he was going with a great send off to heaven with so many people who really cared and loved him. I thanked his nurses everyday for everything that was done for him. I wanted each and every one of them to know that i appreciated them and what they did to help get through another day even when the day was a very difficult one. So to all nurses who give their all to the patients and their families I say Thank You So Much for what you do. You are appreciated!!

    5. Linda

      WOW Alexandra….Do we work together in another life? I was a ICU Nurse 21 yrs Trauma 1, Liver Kinney Pancreas Heart Transplant, Neuro was all the specialities I did. Your powerful honest message was heartfelt…
      Thank you.

      I changed career paths n became a CWOCN. This allowed me to give personal care n educational needs to my patients n family.

      I am now semi retired after 35 yrs..The last 3yrs I went full circle working on a step down unit. Today you can hardly care for patients n family like back in 80’s-2000. But none the less I too was criticized for being compassionate n spending “too much time” with fmly/pt. I decided if I can’t b the nurse that I am…God must have a new plan for me.

      I am now doing Hospice Nursing!!! I get to cry n spend as much time with my pt n family as they beed!

    6. Jill McLauchlin

      so very true about that drive home at the end of the day, rehashing the day, how you could have made the bad news easier for the family and the patient. I talk to patients in ICU even as I prepare them for that final trip downstairs. Some people think its crazy, but it is still the person I have been caring for whether for hours, days or weeks and I cannot just stop caring because the patient has ceased to breathe.

  3. Connie

    Want to thank the Hospice nurses who guided my husband through the last days of his journey. Could not have got through with out them

  4. Ketha Mock

    It takes only a few seconds to allow a loved one to go without guilt for what he or she sees as leaving behind those they have loved and cared for their entire lives, it is painful, it is hard and it hurts but you are not the only one that was touched by this loved one, all that you seen that was good, kind and loving in this person, so did their doctors, nurses and sometimes even though it was only a short time, so did that stranger who was in the room with your loved one, So look around and say thank you to those that were there quietly seeing your loved one go on to meet his or her maker, most often although you are driving quickly, or trying to get back to the room you just stepped outside the door of, It is them that held his or her hand and whispered the words of love and encouragement to them for you.

  5. brandi

    With tears falling down my cheeks and having come off a 3 day stretch, I had do be this person 2 days in a row. I am emotional and physically drained. I was every bit the person you described this weekend. Thank you for reminding me that I am appreciated.

  6. Lester R Brewer

    I have been in the hospital a few times in the last years. I have learned the nurses names and a bit about their families. They have become my family. I respect them for the great job they are called to do. They get close to their patients too. They love just like you and me. Let’ s give them the love and respect they are due. LOVE A NURSE. They hold your hand with your last breath. Sometimes they are the only link between life and death.

  7. Carol Herring

    What a wonderful and potent description of our ladies (and gentlemen) in white. I have many friends that are nurses, and I consider myself lucky to know them personally. They are indeed, all that and so much more. May God Bless all nurses everywhere.

  8. Walta Lynn Parker

    Thank you for sharing this. I started caring for people around age 10. My beloived Aunt LaLa was dying and I was too young to understand. When she left us my soul was crushed. Since that day in 1967 I have loved and cared for many. It’s never easy but it is a blessing to know and love these people. I later went to nursing school but didn’t finish. I honor and respect the profession. Thank you Nurses for persevering. Sincerely, Lynn

  9. Regina

    Awesome article. I have been an office nurse in the same office for 20 years. My patients have become my family. Some of the children I immunized as an infant now have families of their own. As far as the older patients or patients that have become terminally ill, I am part of their journey along with family members. A phone call, a kind word, or sometimes no words and just a hug is needed. That applies to the patient, the family and myself. As Nurses we have feelings that we must hide more often than not, however, that does not mean we are not caring and compassionate.

  10. Jodi

    My parent s had the BEST hospice nurses. I. am forever grateful for the care they gave to me and to my mom and step dad.

  11. Teresa Gamage

    I have been a nure for over 30 years,I took care of my patients as if they was my flesh and blood,sometimes we was all they had,we becamelike family, particularly in the long care facilities,to every nurse out there,take care of yourselves too,nurses are very special people,as a patient myself less than a year ago it shed alot of light on how much nurses do to help their patients,and listen to your patients,that is another thing I have learned.

  12. Glenna Cozort

    I would like to say there is no one more special than the hospice nurses and aides, I spent almost a month there with my aunt Pud who was 90 and passing over, They are truly special and I love you C.J. I will never forget your kindness!!!!

  13. Lena Irick

    I have always believed Nurses are more important than Doctors. Nurses see, hear and instinctively know their patients needs because they give their time, bond and that gives them insight to what’s really important in being a caregiver. Of course, Nurses can’t cry with every death, if they did then it would be all the time. Their strength is usually what keeps the family from totally falling apart. I have seen the best and a few that really should have chosen another profession but over all I would prefer a Nurse being in charge of my care. Thanks for all give. <3

  14. Ruthie

    My experience was nurse to nurse…My father was told he had cancer the middle of Sept. and was gone the middle of Dec. He was in Fla. and I was in VT. Hospice was brought in and getting started with their plan of care. I told my mother and siblings I would be right down there to take care of my Dad. I had never worked with Hospice and was sure I could make them understand how to take care of my Dad. I had my list of questions and what I wanted done for our first meeting after all I was a nursing home nurse and I knew how to take care of people. That super wonderful compassionate nurse had us sit down on the couch facing each other, she took my hands in hers and softly said, I’m going to ask you to do something very hard… I want you to take your nurses cap off and just be a wonderful loving daughter. This is your time to be Daddy’s girl, not a nurse. I’m the nurse here and I promise you, I/we will give your Dad the best possible care and help him make this journey with grace and dignity. I have never forgotten her taking the time to take care of me as well. I know we thanked her when she stopped by after my Dad passed on but I sure wish I could tell her how much of an impact she made on my nursing career.

    1. kanne

      Ruthie,

      It’s never too late to send a letter, to the facility if not to the nurse directly, and ask for it to be forwarded to the nurse. I know that my family has a handful of nurses who would appreciate the gesture and it can turn an unbearable day into a manageable one.

    2. Lori

      Hi Ruthie,
      It is very hard as a nurse to step out of that nurse role when a family member is ill. My Dad got very sick while on vacation in Florida. I was put in the nurse role by the rest of my family because they didn’t understand what was going on. He passed away in Florida with us all at his side. I was the one who had to give him permission to pass away and I was never able to grieve the way I should have. I wish I had had a nurse take me aside and tell me to just be the daughter.

      Lori

    3. Diane

      Ruthie, please write that letter. as a nurse I have recently received a letter from one of my family’s and it is treasured beyond words. I also started receiving cards from another family several years after their loved one passed away. These help remind us why we are nurses

  15. Pingback: When A Nurse Says Goodbye | The Episcopal Chaplaincy

  16. Mary whitacre

    I am also a hospice nurse, a pediatric hospice nurse. I need to be strong and supportive to help families walk the hardest path ever, but don’t for one minute think I don’t cry. I cry with the family, in my car, when I come home and my husband say”so how was your day?” It is a privilege and an honor to be invited into this most sacred and intimate time in a family’s life I always take more away from each death than I give. I watch courage and grace when people don’t know they have it in them, I also am saddened by the times when people are unable or unwilling to put conflict aside to make peace and to have”a good death”

    1. Carrie

      I also have worked at Hospice for just about two years and I completely understand what you are saying. I love my patients and I do cry alongside the family many times, but I totally agree with you about the conflict. I hate to see people fighting at the bedside while their loved one is still alive. I always make it a point to say that hearing is the last to go and ask if they would step outside to have their discussion!! It is an honour to be part of their final journey and I will continue to work Palliative and Hospice for many more years!!

  17. Donna Terry

    I am one of the patients family and let me assure you I know you love and care for my family member. You’ve become one of the family. Thank you for your love and care. Hopefully some day I can repay you in some small way for all you do.

  18. Stephani

    I have been a nurse for 39 years. I mostly did OB which is usually happy, but it is the sad times that stand out. Not that I didn’t personally celebrate the miracle of a living birth with my Heavenly Father. I did. I thanked Him each and every time. The sad ones, I cried, adults and babies alike. Every time you lose a baby or a mom, or adults on other floors when I did spend time there, it took a chink out of my heart and a long time for that little tear to heal.Even delivering 100 healthy ones before another loss wasn’t enough and I still have little scars where all those chinks were. I may not have openly sobbed, but I grieved. I still think about the families of those lost ones and wonder if they healed ok and were able to move on, despite the fact you never get completely over it. I am talking events back to my first loss 38 years ago. Nurses, good ones anyway, feel the compassion and grieve just like families do, just more privately

  19. Melody Blinkmann

    I lost a loved one this last year at the VA hospital in Nashville. He had hopes of a transplant but just got too sick. Every one of the nurses, doctors etc. were blessings to him and our family. I couldn’t have gotten through this without theor kindness, concern, and love. I want to say on behalf of all distraught family members that we are sorry. We have no idea what we have asked you to do on our behalf and how hard it is to say your goodbyes too. We are so often unsure of how to handle ourselves and ask that you forgive us when we try to bargain, plead for more time and such. You know so much more than we do about these things. Please don’t take our anger personally. It is born out of fear, not being ready, and not understanding the process. Many of us can become unreasonable during this time and we appreciate your patience with us. Thank you for all you do! Thank you for sacrificing so much of yourselves to help take care of our loved ones! My daughter is a nurse and a special person in my life!

  20. Ruth

    Nurse’s Wish
    By Ruth Ann Beaudry

    Dying is a process that can be slow and long,
    some can be comforted by just a song.
    Prolonging the process is not what’s best,
    when all they want is to just rest.
    I watch this process day after day,
    let me tell you there’s not enough pay.
    If there was one wish an angel could keep,
    please let them all just fall asleep.

  21. Amanda Finley

    “Nurse’s Wish” describes what I want to say to my patient’s families so often. I struggle with finding the right words when approaching the topic of End of Life, hospice and Comfort Care with loved ones. They do often put me in the “bad guy” catagory, but I know when they are looking at me and listening to my words about how much pain keeping a patient alive can cause, they are seeing death and pain and grief. I do not take it personally. I’m a symbol of giving up to them, until they accept the fate of the patient, if they do. However, I find time to hold my patients hand and stroke his or her forehead, and quietly think about the life they have lived, and respect them for it. I also think about my mother, father, and brother who I lost and remember how it feels. I try to take off my nurses cap on my way home so I can sleep before I return for my next 12 hour shift, and hope for a better day tomorrow.

  22. Rhea C Mccorkle

    I spent 29 years working with Nurses….and to my way of thinking…it always takes a special type individual to make a nurse! I never seen a nurse I didn’t like…they all have the same mentality…to be there for their patient and deliver the best care
    I believe these kind of individuals are heaven sent….and deserve all the respect in the world. My life has been full ….having worked alongside these people…assisting them in any way possible…I was there for them ….just as they were there for their patient!

  23. Janet

    Perhaps I have lived a little vicariously through my precious daughter since she entered nursing school in 1975. I can not recall how many of her patients, or their families, have sung her praises. She is a wonderful nurse,instructor, daughter, sister,wife,mother,nana. She has always been here when we needed her. Now she can retire?? At a young age to enjoy the rewards of her labors. The nursing profession will have a loss, but knowing Deb, she will continue to serve in her gentle, kind , compassionate way, may God Bless your retirement. Sing on for many years to come. You have the love of so many!!

  24. Virginia Walker

    Nursing is a wonderful profession. There are many joys and many sorrows. It is an emotional roller coaster that we learn to navigate with poise and determination keeping our patients and their families in the centre of our focus. I have been a nurse for almost 30 years and would not change one thing.

  25. Lynn

    I’ve been warned that I get too close to my patients How do you get too close to another Child of God?? I will change to the cold standards of others unless I have some sort of brain injury Seriously.

  26. Patty

    I am not a nurse but I am a critical care tech in the Critical Care unit and have been for 15 years. This article was nicely done. There have been times when patients do not have family, I am the one that will sit with them hold there hand and let them know that it is ok. I do not like to see patients die alone. It really gets to me and then when I drive home. The tears flow. Even when they have family and the curtains are closed for cares, I’am the one who will rub there forehead, hold there hand and comb there hair, shave his face etc so that they will look the best that they can for there family.

  27. Nichelle

    Wow ! Thank you ! For expression exactly how we nurses feel! It’s not easy bring a nurse emotionally again thank you

  28. Richard B Decker Jr

    I write this with a tear in my eye, I am not an RN but my wife is, 32 years and still going strong, she is the most caring, loving person that I have ever had the pleasure to meet, I have listened to her many a day after a very long 12 hour shift dealing with the subject mentioned above, of course names are never mentioned, they don’t have to be, the many stories of families, some good, some not so good, I don’t know how she does it day after day, she is a very special person. Whom ever she is taking care of that day, that person or person’s are what is most important, with all of the missed lunches, dinners, breaks, missed “potty” breaks it just doesn’t matter, the most important person is the person she is taking care of that day, that shift. Who ever is lucky enough to have her as their nurse is a very lucky person, thank you to all of the nurses out there that give as my wife does day after day.

  29. David

    I was a Palliative Medicine Chaplain for seven years. Your thoughts were profound and beautifully stated. We chaplains experienced many of the same accusations, barbs as well as profoundly holy moments. Often with families I would sing and/or pray someone into their new life.
    It was all a privilege I shall never forget. And I shall never forget the nurses with whom I was. fortunate enough to minister.
    ..

  30. Brian sharps

    As the husband of a hospice nurse and the recipient of their generous care when my mother passed away this June, I can relate to this story on both sides. I see my wife cry and become upset when a family member doesn’t understand the process of death. I see my wife become close to a patient only to help them into the next life. The level of care my mother received was as compassionate as any I had ever witnessed, all nurses rock!!! But hospice nurses are special angels in my opinion.

  31. Linda Rolett Roberson

    This was spot on, The nurses at my Hospice unit are caring and compassionate, The cnas that do most of the turning and bathing always treat are patients with care and respect. The sad occasion of a patient without family gets extra attention, No one should be alone at the last hour of this life.

  32. Marge

    Having recently retired after 30 years of Hospice nursing, I find much to think about in all this. I have rarely felt unappreciated or wished I was more appreciated when walking with my patients and their families. Yes, I have shed tears, laughed, hugged and listened a lot over the years. I love and cherish the experiences and the people I have met and worked with…… and the wonderful stories and memories. Yes, I’ve been tired and frustrated sometimes, but granting myself a good cry or a day off or a special treat means I’m taking care of me so that I could be the nurse the next patient and family needed on that day. And saying my ‘good byes’ behind the curtain or the closed door is part of it too.

  33. Jeanne Russell

    Being a hospice nurse: it means that you are lucky to work with awesome people, doctors who count on you to wake them in the middle of the night because someone needs their help in getting more comfortable, nurses right arms ( nurses assistants) who make time in their busy nights to give a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on when it’s an emotionally rough night, fellow nurses who support and share their knowledge to help find creative ways to solve problems that come up at 2 A. M. Volunteers who make cookies at night and bring a smile to pAtients, family and staff. Then there are the chaplains and social workers who show up in the middle of the night to help staff, patients and family in crisis. Then there are the dieticians, housekeepers and music therapists who make everything look and smell better, provide food for the soul and for the midnight patient snack attacks and don’t always get enough HUGS of thanks. It also means that when a nurse is saying good bye to Patients and family members she is receiving that special hug for a whole team of caring people who couldn’t be there to give even more HUGS as we say goodbye to grieving families. When we get to share a little time with you and your loved ones, we share your precious memories, both good and bad. Thank you for that gift and I thank those special people who over the years have shared their HUGS and thanks with me. You have enriched my life.

  34. ajaynie14

    I am not a nurse myself. But my mother is and has been for almost 30 years. I have seen her cry over the loss of the ones she has cared for. She is a Hospice nurse now and I could never do what she does. My sister is a CNA in a nursing home. I know she cares for the ones there just the same. My other sister is also a nurse. I’ve seen her bring her thoughts of her patients home often. I may not be a nurse but I respect and appreciate every one of them working out there.

    1. Ruby Weiss

      I have to say as a nurse myself it takes someone special to be a good nurse and even more special to be a hospice nurse. Years ago before I became a nurse my mother inlaw passed away from cancer and the hospice nurses made a very difficult time a lot easier for us. They are definitely angles that walk among us.

  35. Jon

    Scrubs S2E06

    “Dr. Cox: You see Dr. Wen in there? He’s explaining to that family that something went wrong and that the patient died. He’s gonna tell them what happened, he’s gonna say he’s sorry, and then he’s going back to work. You think anybody else in that room is going back to work today?
    That is why we distance ourselves, that’s why we make jokes. We don’t do it because it’s fun — we do it so we can get by…and sometimes because it’s fun. But mostly it’s the getting by thing.”

    Scrubs S2E05

    “J.D.: Anosmia isn’t a side-effect of I.V. Imipenem. Plus, Mr. Blair had multiple nasal polypectomies, and septoplasty; and his loss of smell is most likely caused by repeated manipulation of the sinuses along with concurrent infection. So, I didn’t make a mistake; and you were wrong when you said, “Nice goin’, Newbie.”
    Dr. Cox: Here you’ve put me in a tough situation: I can’t honestly decide whether to say, “Duh,” uh, “Doy,” or a very sarcastic, “Oh, really?” My God, Fiona, I know it wasn’t your fault; hell, the patient probably knows! But he seemed a little distraught, like maybe being able to blame somebody for a second or two just might make him feel a little better? And, I know, maybe it’s me, but doesn’t that seem like something that goes right along with wearing that fancy white coat? It…does, doesn’t it.”

    Working in higher education, specifically with doctors and nurses has really helped to put a face to those providing health care. It frustrates me when I hear others complain till they’re blue-in-the-face that their nurse/doctor doesn’t care about them..

    I know the situations above are made up and told rather humorously, but it helped to paint a picture of people who care and work hard and sometimes (maybe more often than not) things turn out very poorly. Grief and sadness hurt and oftentimes they hurt people who you don’t even realize. There are episodes later on relating to giving a patient “good news” and how nice it feels to come up with the creative solution or bring happiness into a patients life.

  36. Barb

    That is really comforting to know you Nurses rock but now your Rocking ! Thanks for giving love and support at the worst times and the short happy times

  37. Yvonne Crownover

    You Nailed it. Many families never know (or care) how hard we work or how much we care or how much it hurts when a patient dies, is dying or the family is hateful to us. We are there BECAUSE WE CARE. It is not a glamorous job, it is a hard job, it is not just a job… it is a calling for many of us. We want to do the best for the patient. We want to do the the best for the family. Being a nurse is a physically, psychologically, emotionally draining job, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I am a nurse and will always be a nurse… even when I am no longer able to work. May God bless every nurse, doctor, tech, caregiver, allied health provider and anyone else who cares for people when they are not at their best because they care about them.

  38. Hearstine Ewing

    Brought tears to my eyes So true It’s so hard to leave out feeling of out patient at work. Thank God for Nurses everywhere n for our patient families that entrust their care to us. It’s never easy to tell a family member that their love one is gone

  39. Sybil jones

    Moms hospice nurses where with us when she passed. Weeks later I saw her car in town and walked to the store where she was just to hug her & let her know how much I appreciated her. Mom was grumpy at times, as she didn’t like to hear the reality of her disease. But she was never not taken care of nor, not loved by her nurses. May God bless every nurse for doing a thankless job.

  40. Noreen H

    I am a PSW that worked in LTC and in Alzheimer Respite, too many times I have had to say goodbye and many more times I will do it again, I have to leave that client or resident and go to the next room and give care to another within minutes of losing someone I cared for. The distance they say we need to put between us and the resident or client is really not there. I wait for my break, I say a prayer and Godspeed to the soul of the deceased and then continue on. I then go home eat ,go to bed and think of the person and hope that the time spent with them was quality and I provided the for the emotional ,physical and spiritual needs of that person when they needed it most. I stay when they are afraid and don’t want to die alone, I pray with them to whatever God they believe in and I hold their hand until the end ,wiping their brow and sing to them softly into the light. I treat them with dignity before and after death and it is this that that lets me get up in the morning and start all over again.
    Nurses ,PSW’s and caretakers, my hat off to you because it would be a lonely,
    scary life and death out there without you.

    1. Pam Brandon

      This so says it all we care a heavy burden and never show it o have been a nurse for 18 year and it has not became any easier when a patient is lost

  41. Carole Noble, RN

    This is beautifully done and tells it like it is. Thank you. In spite of the heartache, the long hours the hard work, and sometimes the hopeless helpless feelings, there is not anything I would rather have done with my life than to be a Registered Nurse. Thank you God for the many opportunities You have given me to Minister to the sick, the injured, the dying and to the grieving. I love being a Nurse.

  42. Pat langston

    I have to say my husband and I were one of the lucky ones. Even tho he had stage 4 cancer, They pulled him through. We can never thank those angels, both men and women enough for what they did. That was 9 years ago and we are still in touch with them. They are wonderful. We love them.

  43. Mary Halstead

    This truly sums it up. Praying them to peace & new life is a privilege that nurses get along with being there for our patients & their families.

  44. Cathie

    I am not a nurse. It skipped me. But I remember the connection my mom had with her patients. Some see her picture and remember her still today. My daughter is a nurse and when she was in our fair town ,She was often the one to be t here . I was hard emotionally. When you get so close to a patient. And your Christian heart pours out. Most family members see it in that nurse. (at least here.) I will praise a good Christian nurse every time. Though some DO NOT have the thought of the family in mind starting out, they usually see. the pain and I have never seen a nurse that does not feel the family’s pain. You really are good. God bless you.

  45. jgnewman

    My mother died a few months ago – a couple of weeks following her 100th birthday. She’d been in a care facility about 4 years. If we, as family members are honest with ourselves, the care facility staff is doing a job that we, for whatever reason, are unable to do. I can’t imagine being unkind to the lovely people who cared for my mother, nor can I imagine wishing her to stay in that existence any longer than necessary. People just aren’t real logical as they greave. What would they want their loved one to live longer to do? Why do they feel it’s okay to demean their loved one’s care giver? Sadly, at the time of loss, we don’t always think rationally. Who among us would bring a loved one back to suffer longer?

  46. Sue

    This was a wonderful article, really hit home for me .I recently retired after 42 years of nursing. I also recently lost my husband after a double lung transplant with several complications. His nurses in ICU had to give myself and my daughters continuous bad news , there was never an improvement. We were so fortunate to have such a wonderful, caring group of nurses helping my husband. I will never forget the male nurse Shane that was with us when he passed.Our family was blessed to have the compassion he showed to my husband and our family. These people were truly angels that we will never forget. My husband was in ICU for 62 days and he received wonderful care, so did we!

  47. Christine White

    Being a nurse is the most heart breaking job there is you don’t know if the people that you care for one day will still be alive the next day

  48. Sherry

    Can identify with this story so well… It makes the pain in my heart come back thinking of my whole family I have lost when I lose a patient . After 43 years nursing it never gets easier!

  49. suzanne Hamilton

    That was heart felt spare a thought for our nurses they do an amazing job in not the easiest of situations. It’s so true when we care for someone in their dying moments that it can trigger our own feelings of loss for our loved ones. We may also search for what we could have done differently but being you is the best way.

  50. Gretchen Mross

    THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE NURSES DOING THEIR JOBS & then going above and beyond what is asked of them. Many times you are the glue that holds a family together. Your kind words to the family and the loved one means more than words can say. Go home with your head held high knowing YOU made a difference!!

  51. sue

    Nothing can aptly describe our thanks for the care given with the most love to Mac especially on 10/31/01 and 11/27/02.. Gods plans are so much more than we can ever know & He truly uses “all things for the good”.. Thank you God for 10 magicL yrs w/ Mac!

  52. Linda Hladun

    My beautiful grandson, who earned his angel wings at the age of 6 months, lived at our local children’s hospital for the last four months of his life. I witnessed, first hand, how they cared not only for him but for our whole family. We had nurses who came in on their day off to check up on all of us. His nurses became friends – became family. They laughed and cried with us and even now, after 5 years, they have remained in our lives.

  53. Katrina G

    To all those nurses who have been there for me and my family, Thank You! I have had nurses at very happy times of my life – when babies are born and a very sad time of my life – when I lost a baby. I was so thankful for all the nurses that were there to support and help me, even to laugh when I attempted to make them smile. I hate being just a number…and I am so thankful to the nurses that make me feel like more than that.

  54. Gerald Hallman

    When I was working in the different units as a staff nurse and as a paramedic, I would do that what could I have noted or done differently when ever there was a death. When I worked Hospice and I was able to provide the comfort and support a dying person needed and offer comfort to the family and patient. I became more at peace with my actions and recognized that bond with someone dying that means they will live on in my memory at peace.

  55. Adrienne

    Thanks for this. I’m not a nurse, but my kids and I have been in hospital. The nurses are often the difference between life and death. Nursing is a profession and an art and I am profoundly grateful to all the nurses that have tended to me and my family.

  56. Hollie Eagleeye

    Getting a job at the #1, Level 1 Trauma Emergency Room at the Hospital I’ve worked for for 15 years was a proud moment . The Serouusnees of the responsibility didn’t take long to kick in. Hearing your name Called to a Trauma coming in carries a Heavy weight. You hope that the outcome is survivable for the patients, there families and for yourself. It takes a moment of Silence after a patient dies for your addrineline levels to settle and then your back to work Non stop as you finish your 12 hour shift. Its a Tough job to be exposed to the Agonies of Death over and over again.Chronic Stress is the problem and Quitting is the Only solution. No Nurse should be blamed for someone else’s Bad News but instead, Thanked for our Wlingness to Care for our patients and thier families in the most difficult times in their Lives.

  57. Carolan Goodman

    Having been a Hospice nurse helped me with my 9 yrs of Critical Care Work. I’ve cried with the patient, family and while driving home, in the shower and on my pillow! Still … God called me to be the Best nurse I can be for HIM!
    I still wouldn’t trade it for the world!

  58. Vincette Hubbard

    I also am a nurse who experience the good and the bad from patients loved one this was wellspoken and from the heart —my feelings many times

  59. Kath Beal

    I have the greatest respect for the nursing profession indeed the whole health profession. I have worked in the care profession for many years. Fortunately where I have worked I have seen nothing but the upmost care and respect for those losing their life and their loved ones. Unfortunately I have seen the other side when I lost my husband, the level of care was disgusting compassion non existent. Im sorry but those nurses let the heroes down

  60. Tammy Stone

    I just want to say thank you to all the nurses out there . you are very special people and have hearts of gold I know I would not of made it through chemo or been able to continue with all the after care without someone holding my hand and joking around with me when the pain was so unbearable I wanted to give up.The nurses are the ones who kept me spirits alive and I thank and love you guys for doing for me what I could not do for myself and that is have hope and a will to go on.I couldn’t of made it without you.

  61. Tracey Brooks

    My husband sadly passed 2 yrs ago I cared for him at home from start to finish with the most incredible help from such loving and caring district nurses from our doctors practise and a loving and caring mcmillian nurse without these amazing nurses I dont know how i would if coped so Thank you so much to these amazing nurses who do this job my district nurses came from the Vallance centre in Ardwick green Manchester , the Mcmillian nurse was Central manchester xx

  62. Brenda K DeLeon

    It’s amazing how it may seem to the families of the terminally ill that we don’t care because we do our best to not cry in front of them. Truth is, we do carry the ill and their families in our hearts and on our minds even off the clock….. for whatever reason, it just feels wrong not being the strong one for everyone else!

  63. Kelly

    Wonderfully worded and so very true. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for doing what you do! Just yesterday I held the hand of a beautiful lady while she took her last breath. As difficult as it is, I am very thankful to be able to provide comfort and reassurance in someone’s final moments.

  64. Dawn

    I am an Emergency Department RN at a Level I trauma center. I have only been a nurse for 3 years as this is a second career for me and I graduated nursing school at the age of 45. I absolutely love my job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I agree with the comments about how we sometimes have to hold in our feelings and our tears. I love helping people and it is wonderful when we can help people get better and save a life. It is hard though when we are the bearer of bad news and we lose patients. I hate to say we become immune to the bad stuff but we kind of do and have to so we can continue to care for our other patients. Even though we may not shed tears in front of patients and their families, it doesn’t mean that we don’t go home after our shift and cry. I have done that many times. Although there are many sad times, the good outcomes and lives saved make it worth while to me. I wouldn’t change my career for the world. :)

  65. AtticAmbead

    My mom is a nurse and I see her go through this all the time. She loves he patients and it absolutely kills her when they reach the end. She cries and even attends funerals. Nurses care for their patients. They are with them every day and talk to them. They have no choice but to put on a brave face at work, but they do this job because they are stronger and have huge hearts. They deserve appreciation daily.

  66. Norma Proutt

    As the daughter of a terminally ill patient in our local hospital I can attest to the loving care given my mom on her last days. Most of her nurses were very accommodating with our questions and concerns regarding her care and what we could do to help. At this point we were encouraged to help her live her life to her fullest. We were encouraged to take her out even for a short walk or ride and to bring her home for Christmas. Our last few months together were bittersweet yet so loving. Thanks to her nurses she had family with her at the end and her nurses were not only caring for her they cared for those of us there at the end. I have friends and loved ones who are nurses and caregivers they do a very special job that not all of us can do. Good nurses like good doctors can make a difference in many lives. Keep on doing the good work for you are truly heroes.

  67. Esther K

    Thank you for writing such beautiful article. You basically covered all the happy and bad times in my nursing career. But you are right, a simple thank you and/or a thank you card always brighten up our days.

  68. Liane Smith

    Having been a Hospice Nurse myself, how beautifully said. I have cried also at my patients passing. I give my patients the same tender loving care, as I have my own family.

  69. Sue Howard

    I am an oncology nurse. I just lost 2 men who I cared about so much. Today one of them was supposed to come in for his treatment. When I go by his usual seat today, I will be thinking of him. If I didn’t have this job I would have never had the pleasure of meeting those wonderful men.

  70. anne keddie

    I am a retired nurse, and was very touched by what is written. I can remember being there when a patient loses that battle and have cried (in private) for patients and families. I don’t think you ever forget

  71. Maisie G.

    I too am a nurse and this so describes my life.
    these truly the moments that are the most difficult but also the most rewarding.
    Being by the side otr a patient at the end of his/her life and knowing we helped to make the passage smoothly and with dignity is for me a great honour.

  72. Amy

    I have been a CNA for almost a year now and I’ve already had to let go of a few residents. One of which I really cared for. I didn’t get to know her for as long as others have, but I told her it was okay to go. I went outside and cried, though. Sometimes, I just have to cry. I’ve had a few residents say they wish they would die, and I always tell them I won’t let them.

    I hope my journey in hopefully becoming a nurse will enlighten me to this road. It’s never easy for family. It’s especially not easy for the nurse or CNA who cares for them for most of the days they see them.

  73. Melinda Michiels

    I’ve been on the patient end many times and I always try to treat my nurses with all the respect that they deserve. I honestly think it is such a huge responsibly while also getting emotionally involved. I know for a fact I would not be here today if it weren’t for all the great cares of so many nurses. So, Thank you all for doing what you do!!!

  74. Tina Parker

    As a daughter whose mom died in hospital I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you my family and I would have been totally useless. My mom passed with dignity and in peace. We had the opportunity to say our good byes and were there when she passed due to the care given not just to mum but to our family by nurses who have too many patients and are stretched too thinly yet do a fantastic and at times thankless job. so thank you. The Parker Familyx

  75. tracy

    im not a nurse but a health care support worker ,,we do as much as a nurse we wash , dress , cheer patients up , and we are the ones who usually do the last wash they will ever have with care . still talking to them as if they are still with us

  76. Helen

    Oh so true. I have dedicated 38 years to nursing ncould not have chosen a more rewarding job. It has been a priviledge to care for all “my patie ts” over those years.

  77. Carol Eardley

    Nurses are angels in disguise. The wonderful nurses and staff at Bury hospice who cared for my uncle in his final days were incredibly caring and will always be remembered x

  78. Kathleen Mary Langan

    Thank you for this article. My nurse’s heart bleeds the suffering of my patients and their loved ones. I knew I was sure I wasn’t the only nurse to feel this way.

  79. Ellen cole

    I was able to be with my dad in St Andrews hospice, in Ardrie until he passed away, and because of the care not only my dad received but me too, from the staff. I started to work as a health care assistant, and then went to uni and am now an assosiate practioner, and am able to now look after patients the way my father was looked after, I will never be able to really tell the staff of the hospice, what they did for my whole family, but want to thank each and everyone of them for everything they did to let my dad die with dignity and surrounded with his family. Xxxx

  80. theresa

    My respect and heartfelt gratitude fir nurses is beyond measure. ..when my sister was passing away in hospice the nurses were there to help my sister through every moment and comforted her and my family in ways not just any person can do…nurses are special loving people the world and peoples lives are infinitely better…the memory brings a tear to my eye…God bless nurses and may these angels always keep watch

  81. Patricia

    I’m 46 years old and works in healthcare for 15. I’ve worked in a nursing home setting for 8 yrs as a CCA. I’ve sat with dying residents and held their hand. Sat with their families, brought in coffee and donuts and just gave my support even on my days off. These residents are not just residents of the nursing home, they are our family too! We are with your family 24/7 and it affects us when we lose them too. I loved my job as emotional as it can be!

  82. deb

    Beautifully written and so, so true. After 32 yrs I still marvel at how we manage to make it through a 12 hour shift let alone come back and do it all over again. God bless us ♡

  83. bridgit fraser

    My brother had some of the best nurses and doctors looking after him, I could not thank them enough they went over and above what u would expect tried everything they could do to make him better. He had cf and we spent a lot of time at hospitals we were grateful to each and everyone at all of them and so was he. The only thing he used to ask specifically for was experienced nurses to take his blood as his veins were bad. He was treated with kindness and dignity at all times we were supported reminded to go eat and sleep.they kept us informed every step of the way and helped us make the decision to turn the machines off. I realised at the time how much you all cared when doctors and nurses cried too, he’d been in the unit where you have 2 nurses per patient 24/7 and he was in 6 months they’d become friends to us all through a terrible time. I will never forget everything that they did for us and my brother. So a big thank you to you all for the amazing job you all do. My family appreciate you all xxx

  84. patriciaday

    I was a Hospice nurse for 19 years. Families asked me many personal questions and made many observations over the years. The one statement that took me back was, “You must be very cold and calloused to do this everyday.” After I gained composure, I reassured the family member that I never felt anything but love and compassion for my patients. I knew I couldn’t stop the cancer or perform a miracle for them, but I could do my job while I was in their home. If during that one hour or more I answered a question that calmed a worry, made the patient more comfortable with my gentle touch, supported the caregiver who was dog-dead tired – then I had done my job. That didn’t make me cold or calloused but a caring, compassionate nurse who knew my limits and gave my patient and family 100% of all I had to give. There were tears and a new understanding of what nursing is all about. It’s about unconditional positive regard for your patient and every effort to give them all of yourself for the time they are in your care…and you move on to the next patient and start all over again.

  85. Sandy Vernace

    There is one nurse I will never forget. His name is Tim. He took care of my fiance (Vinny) every day he was on shift. (for nearly 3 months.) He learned what Vinny liked, didn’t like, could tolerate, what he couldn’t. However most of all he learned Vinny’s sense of humor. They would tease back and forth constantly. Vinny loved humor above all else. When it was time to leave this earth he was there with Vinny and I. I will never forget Tim Sociwitz. After Vinny passed he even gave me his number in case I needed him. It’s been almost seven years now, but Tim will be forever in my heart. He is truly an angel among us.

  86. holly

    my mother is a nurse and has been for my entire life, hospice, cancer wards, all i saw growing up was my mothers pain when her patients died . she cried herself to sleep night after night, woke bleary eyed and filled with hope that today would be better for this patient or that, only to come home night after night , broken. So much so, it made me NOT want to be a nurse because i couldnt feel MY heart break the way i saw hers break everyday over the loss of her patients. A hospice nurse in the height of the aids scare and terminal patient after terminal patient. YOUR JOB IS HELL. and yet you all get up EVERYDAY and go to help sick people and protect us and wipe our foreheads and comfort us at your own personal expense, and if anyone on EARTH deserves to be given a break or treated with respect, it is a nurse! Im proud my mom is who she is. it takes a VERY strong person to do what you all do and my hat is off to you.

  87. Lora Pharis

    Don’t forget the therapists who work with these patients. We go through these same things with our patients. We work with these patients 5 days a week sometimes for 2 hours a day for weeks or even months. During that time, we get to know that patient as a friend. We learn about their lives, their families, their fears, their regrets, and their proudest moments. These people become our little family for their time with us. When we lose one of these brave souls after working so hard to make them better, it hurts us to our core. We feel like we let that patient down in some way even when there was nothing to be done by us. I remember my successes, but I also remember some of the awesome people that I have lost and still remember 30 years later!

  88. Jan

    I have had the privilege to be part of many families lives throughout my 23 years of nursing. You couldn’t have captured it better. Thank you for sharing this with everyone.

  89. Arlene MacIsaac

    Most powerful moments of my life, surrounding a dying child with singing, music, prayer, tears, laghtor , hugs & love

  90. Janet Bowers, RN, MSN

    Stated very well. While reading, I reflected back on my nursing career and still today I remember many of my patients, who have passed away. Especially those who touched my life with words of faith, encouragement, a kindred spirit. I know longer work as a nurse, but I will always have that nurturing spirit and sense of compassion for another individual.
    God bless all nurses

  91. Don Leong

    My wife is a retired ICU nurse who had her share of patients who were “called home”. What gave her the courage to keep going was there was always a miracle case who came back from the brink and walked out the door.

  92. Arlene Gegner

    I am not in the medical profession but several years ago I lost my oldest sister to cancer.
    This was a new experience for me and very depressing not knowing how to
    handle and accept what was happening. She first was given 6 months and with in
    hours it was 24 hours as she had a DNR . We sat with her holding our breath when she didn’t breathe and letting out when she did. The nurses were wonderful knowing she didn’t have much time but they rolled her over and rubbed lotion on her back the whole time telling her
    how good she was doing. Very comforting for us as it showed that they really cared and loved their job even tho it was difficult they never gave up and they gave the family so much care and concern on how we were doing. So hats off to all medical personal.

    From Canada

  93. Ana

    As a Hospice nurse, I feel this completely. There are so many families I haven’t been able to say goodbye to. Our patients don’t realize that they become a part of our lives, part of our family. I see them more often than I do some of my real family. And try as we might not to, you get attached to these people. And you grieve when you lose them too. And while I go in knowing my patients are going to pass and my goal of being there is to make sure it is done with dignity and painlessly, I never take away their hope. So it is emotionally painful to me to have families say all I do is discuss them dying or tell them they are going to die. I won’t lie to a patient who asks me for honesty, but to a family, my job is to prepare you as well. Even when I wish I had a magic wand to wave and make all of it go away. I will miss your mom/dad/aunt/uncle/brother/sister/cousin/friend too. Just as I will miss you. Even with your hatred.

  94. Jessica Reams-Losee

    I’m a nurse in a primary care setting, you get to know the patients and their familis and become a part of their lives. I’m leaving primary care to work on an inpatient floor, saying goodbye to the relationships I’ve formed is difficult. It’s a form of grieving.

  95. MayR

    This is beautiful!!! It shows the true essence of our nursing profession…. My motto has always been Listen to our patient’s needs, Treat them with respect and never give up hope….. It is hard when a patient is dying.. But I agree that false hopes is not good as well… But giving some true hope is still essential for our patients who are fighting for their illness…
    May R, NP, Boca Raton, Fl

  96. SUSAN

    We need to appreciate all the beautiful people that do care for us through the years–the end of our lives is harder I think, but it is so hard to say good bye to any one that you love and care about! Thanks for sharing this with us–it is really something to think about!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  97. Amy Hardeman

    Beautifully written. I recently lost my mother to renal failure, she was 83 years old. She didn’t want to do dialysis because my father had passed away fifteen months earlier and she had missed him so, she was just ready to go. When the throwing up first started we took her to the hospital and I must say the nurses on that floor were so good to my mother and the whole family. I even brought donuts for both shifts because they had been so good to us and it made mother smile. When we were able to take her home we had hospice setup and they too were wonderful. Yes it’s tough on them when they have to tell you your love one is dying. The hospice nurse we had even referred to herself as the bad nurse that night. I put my arms around her and said, “No you are not bad at all.” And we cried together. After mother passed away the nurses from the hospital sent mother a card and so did the hospice nurse. The hospice counselor even came to mother’s viewing.
    So thank you, to all nurses, for the work you do. I know it’s not an easy job and you often don’t get thanked enough or at all, but I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart!

    Amy

  98. Steph

    I am not a nurse I’m an RRT, I still remember being a newbie maybe a month on the job and we had a patient that knew she was dying. she was absolutely terrified of dying alone. I work at a small hospital and everyone working that night took turns sitting with her so she would not be alone. she was right she did pass that night and I was the one that was with her when it happened. It may have been the first time in my career that I have sat with someone while they passed but certainly not the last. there is a peace in knowing you have made someones transition easier for them but it breaks my heart everytime. crying when someone looks at you funny for a few days does not look good

  99. Keelie Rossi

    Could have not said it better,as a hospice nurse for 8 years,the “goodbyes” are never easy but when the “goodbye” is with peace& comfort,it makes my heart smile!!!

  100. Live

    It is more the nursing assistants who do this I know because I have been there when I had to tell someone I am sorry for there loss or hold the hand of that dieing person and let them no it’s ok to go I am here and will be with them till the end there r very caring nurses out there who do try to do this but they don’t just have that one patient they are busy pushing meds and charting that’s why god sends in his angels the NA to comfort the person and family!

    1. Kerianne Dunlap

      It is a team effort for sure….we have all been there for the right patient or family at the right time….no one more than the other….NA’s are very much a part if this ❤

  101. bob groff

    I know you, Rita Macdonald. I know you through many other Rita’s who share your beautiful words. I thank them for doing what you’ve written. I thank you for speaking for them.

  102. Rose

    When my mother passed away three years ago, I was so grateful for the nurses who were gentle and kind to her during her last days. It hurt that I couldn’t be with her 24/7 but knowing that when my Dad, brother or I were not there, there was a kind nurse tending to her took away some of the pain. After she passed I made a point of thanking those nurses and let them know how very much it meant to me. I miss my mother terribly and it still hurts when I remember her suffering. But I always smile remembering those gentle souls and I always remember nurses in my prayers. I also make a point to express gratitude to nurses I meet day to day–just incase their patients and their families forget to. God Bless.

  103. Rose Ann Kossenjans

    As an employee of a hospital for almost 30 years, I see death & dying on a daily basis. This past November my 24 yr old son passed away of complications from a sudden cardiac arrest. He was in ICU for 3 weeks before we had to let him go. I made sure to thank all of the staff that worked on my son & after each shift, his nurse got a big hug & was told how much they were appreciated for all they do. They still seek me out for a hug when I come up to do one of their patients. I think it I’d good therapy for me as well as for them. God bless you.

  104. Shelia

    I’ll tell you this, for sure when my father in law was passing on we were not there. If it had not been for the nurse on duty calling us to say he was wanting us to come sit with him we would not have been there. Thanks to her we were there to be with him when he took his final breath. I will always be thankful to her and we let her know how much that meant to us.

  105. Dorothy Ball

    I read through at least half of these letters, and I cried most of the time. I can’t imagine being a nurse myself, but I am so thankful for all those that have dedicated their lives to caring for others. God bless each one.

  106. Mom

    Thank you to Nurse Kimberly for being so outstandingly caring and lightening the mood when my pregnant daughter was admitted tonight for some very serious blood test. You DEFINITELY win Top Honors in my book and I have seen a small percent of crappy to mediocre nurses to a massive amount of wonderful, caring and attentive nurses. You may never know how truly grateful we both are you were there for us tonight. Kudos to you and keep up the stellar job!

  107. Raylene

    My children used to complain I gave all my caring to my patients instead of them. I explained that was my job and there just wasn’t any left when I got home. Maybe not the best answer but it was true. My patients get my undivided attention even when I wasn’t there. But, in 40 yrs I have never regretted my career.

  108. Jon K

    As a ER tech and former nursing PCA on a med surge unit and EMT I can tell you this that it is so hard when you can’t do anything but help a person pass with honor.
    This past year I fought to give my father and father in-law the best care I could but it wasn’t enough. I still fight the feelings of failure for them. With all our training and work some times it isn’t enough. I work in a hospital and volunteer my time off on a small local Ambulance in the hope of helping that one person that may not have any hope without me.
    Love your family and friends and pray for us that do everything we can.

  109. Nina broughton

    God know exacley who can do his work my God Bless you, you are a caring person with love for your patients and there family what a blessing to know that you done your job we’ll,,I’m grateful and PRoud ,Thank you, from !,,The Broughton Family

  110. paula hamer

    I think u have put it in exact words. I work in a hospice and have experienced all you have said. Fantastic words said with emotion and empathy x

  111. Steven Pipitone

    If I were breathing my last breath, the last words would be to say thank you to all of the nurses that had taken care of me. For the time that they devoted to make me feel as comfortable as possible. For sitting for a little while just to talk with me and listen to me rant about the wonderful, little things that I would share with them and have them listen, so intently. for the times that I may not have made it to the bathroom and they were there to clean up the mess I made and hold my hand as I drifted off to sleep.

    A nurse is one of the greatest caretakers you will ever find. They are there every step of the way. They are the Angels you can see and when you leave to go on to a better place, a part of you still remains with them.

    God bless all of the nurses that strive to make our lives and yes, sometimes death much easier.

    Thank you!!!

  112. cathybuchanan

    My husband passed away June 4 after losing his battle with brain cancer. Ironically, it was a stroke after a successful brain surgery, not the cancer itself. We were at the hospital for 8 days, but my husband was really only aware for 1 or 2 of those. I was there every hour I was allowed in the ICU, and every time I walked through the door, his nurses would come in to check on me. Not only did they care for my husband whole on duty, but they prayed for him, checked in on him if they were off-shift, but passing by, and made sure I had everything I needed so I could focus my love and attention on him. If I needed a break, they would sit with him for a few minutes and make sure someone was keeping a close eye on him. When he passed away, every one of his nurses who was in the hospital came by to give me a hug and tell me how sorry they were. I even received a card from all of his nurses. I cannot thank that team enough for the loving care they took of both of us during my husband’s extended stay. I tried to get by and thank them, but I am sure a few slid through the cracks. Nurses are the most special, caring, strong, amazing people who bless others all shift long. Thank you for answering the call.

  113. Irene

    I have been so blessed by all the loving and honest sharing of these precious comments! Thank you! I have been a RN for 24 years in the acute care setting in many different areas and have witnessed the most beautiful and most sorrowful moments of my patients and their families lives. Death is a sacred moment in time. And I have been honored to be there when no one else can be there or to share that moment with their love ones. I have been thanked and I have been cursed, I have laughed and I have cried. It is my calling by the Grace of God!!!!

  114. bvillareal

    The nurses who took care of my father and are taking care of my mother now are true angels on earth. I thank you all for the hard work you do each and every day and being patient with the family members who are yelling at you when they are really yelling at the disease that is making their loved one suffer. God bless each and every one of you and may you be kept in the palm of His hands always!

  115. Susan

    As a critical care and trauma nurse for 22 years, this really hit home. Nurses suffer daily from a battered soul. The resilient ones who come.back the.next day to try again are the ones who make a difference.

  116. Lisa Schmidt

    My husband just died from terminal cancer on May 3 rd and I have to say how blessed we were to have wonderful nursing care both in the hospital and the hospice facility. I was so dreading hospice and then we were told we needed to go that direction. My husband only lived three days after he moved to hospice, but he was treated with such dignity that I just can’t thank them enough. I so admire and respect nurses and their dedication to their patients.

  117. Tarrols

    I’m impressed at all these testimonials to wonderful nurses, but I’m afraid I’ve met just as many hard, cold, seemingly emotionless nurses who treat patients (my relatives, and sometimes me) like we are annoying inconveniences they wish would just shut up and go away. I don’t doubt it’s a very difficult and heart-rending job. I doubt I could do it. But let’s not pretend every nurse is an angel of mercy. They’re human beings, and some of them are not kind and compassionate and caring, but hard and unkind and seemingly forgetful that they are dealing with human beings and not just inconveniences.

    1. Kerianne Dunlap

      I agree…as a nurse I have seen many that I am not proud of in this profession. I am deeply sorry u experienced this….I hope u have one that shows the other side of nursing….one who is “called” to the profession and not just there waiting for his/her shift to end.

  118. S Bedingfield

    When my dad died, the nurses were wonderful. They cried right along with us. The family loved them. The doctors, on the other hand, were the cause of his death. We sued them.

  119. stacy

    Being a NICU NURSE I have been through this. Sometimes losing more than one baby in a two week span. I was devistated, heartbroken. But the parents and families were very loving towards me. It did not make the situation easier but they appreciated the care I gave their baby and they new the docs and nurses did all we could. Its wonderful and devastating all rolled into one. As a nurse we have to take the good with the bad. I love being a nurse in good times and bad.

  120. darla cope

    My husband had a stoke a week ago. Every nurse from the I C U to the the Rehab was sweet and caring. Im so blessed to have such sweet nurses that took so good care of my husband as well as the techs just being the caring people as thy are. He has made such a great improvement and is continues to do.

  121. Jule

    I’ve been a trauma/flight nurse for over 26 years. It’s hard to turn off your emotions but sometimes you have to stay focused. I’ve cried with my patients and held their hands comforting them through rough times. It’s not easy. Sometimes that’s all they want. I care for my patients and will always be their advocate. It’s my job. It’s the love and respect for each and every one of them

  122. Chris M.

    As the daughter of a nurse… a Trauma ICU nurse… I have seen for most of my life what nurses bring home. I have answered my phone to have my mother say, “Tell your mother you love her.” And promptly did so, because I knew she’d had a rough day… or she was still having a rough day and it was the closest I could come to giving her the hug she sorely needed. Sometime during her day, something had reminded her of her daughters, or her grandbabies, and she had to call and check to make sure we truly were okay. Twice I received a phone call from her telling me a friend of mine was in her unit… and it wasn’t for a visit (after making sure it was okay with the family). Luckily, both times she didn’t have to say goodbye to one of her “other kids” as most of my friends were adopted by this amazing woman. I know and have seen the burden nurses carry, and I know and remember that they don’t just leave that burden as soon as they clock out. You have my respect, and understanding, and I wish everyone could have a glimpse into the life of a nurse. Thank you for this post, and the reminder of how amazingly wonderful my mother is… even though I don’t really need that reminder. :)

  123. Dawn

    As a float nurse I experience loss and death in the many stages the predictable and the sudden and I’ve seen all types of coping from shared tears to quiet escapes we may seem detached or even cold to those who do not nurse or have not experienced loss, rarely is your nurse either most times it’s a cope a way to hold it together because as mentioned above we can often relate your loved one to our parent or grandparent or the fear that we too could loose our child. We hurt for you and tho you may not know it your loved one is talked about long after they’re gone we remember them they leave a mark on us in my house it’s the angels patients and their loved ones have given me. My son knows I shed a tear and smile every Christmas as I hang a Christmas ornament I was given and he’ll say that’s from your special lady right mom. We share your loved one not their names or their illness but their sprite they touch us. They give us the strength to keep going so to those that grant us the honour of looking after your loved one thank you. Your loved one is a recipe, or a song, a joke or fond story we all carry them with us.

  124. Shawn

    Having been a nurse for a really long time I can’t tell you how patients any talk to their loved ones about dying, but we the nurse sit and hold their hand and listen … Help them cope with the finality of life . The family has a lot to deal with also …. They sometimes can’t bear to talk to their lived one about dying but someone has to and it the nurse… Give us a break , there is dignity in dying and that is what we are their for to care for your family and for you if you let us.

  125. Wendy Ann Lara-flores

    I love all the nurses I have had thought 98.5% of all my surgeries. They are kind and sweet as can be even knowing they’ve had a long or bad day!!! Thank you Patsy Keegan, & Julie Poole Gonzalez for practicing nursing and being RN’s :)

  126. leon embang

    a nurse feelings was perfectly described and well said our time and effort is not for us but devoted for our pts. our hearts broke when ever we see them go,our tears fall and flood our eyes unnoticed,yet some do not appreciate the nurse duty to care and cure.Nevertheless lets walk the path of our chosen journey up to the very end.

  127. John David

    Having lost a son of 19 to a horrible blood infection. I believe all nurses will have a special place in heaven. Thank you.

  128. Kpshingleton

    I have been in the hospital many times. I had six heart attacks. Nine heart grafts, eight stints a pacemaker. I’ll stop now. But I wool say this. God bless my nurses and Doctors. They have kept me alive since 1989. By the grace of God and the skills given to these caring professionals I say thank you. Sincerely. Keith Shingleton.

  129. Sanci

    I’m a PICU nurse in a level 1 hospital. I know this story intimately. There are patients that never leave you, to this day I remember the date and exact time they left this world. Held hands of children who were dying alone because their parents could not bare the incredible pain of what was happening. Your post definitely made me tear. Thank you for all you do, from one nurse to another :-)

  130. Brenda Pickett

    My husband had a male nurse that used to make him laugh every time he came into the room. The nurse would tell everyone that was in the room that had never saw him do it before to “watch this” he would scan this armband before giving him his meds and the machine would beep and he would say “thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart” lol I never got tired of hearing that. I wanted to enjoy every moment my husband had left on this earth and he was a man that loved to laugh and joke around. God could not have sent us a more perfect nurse. I thank all nurses for what you do, you are compassionate, giving people, and to those that appreciate it, and understand your calling you are an encouragement and help to lighten a very heavy burden. Thank You!

  131. Anneli

    I’ve been a nurse for over 20 yrs. I left nursing for several years to do something else. During that time my dad became very ill at a young age and died in an ICU. I had been an ICU nurse. I so appreciated the nurse that was honest with me. Even though I was a nurse… at that time I was a daughter who was clinging onto hope. I’ve since come back to nursing and I work in the ER now. My experiences allow me to have incredible empathy for others who are going through times like this. I do sometimes feel they don’t really believe I care as much as I do. This really touched me, because, I do care and my heart breaks over and over again for the losses of others.

  132. Daphne

    I am so incredible proud of you, you’ve said it all this needs to go into print. We neglected our
    Own families to care for our patient, gone without food, got home so exhausted we have no use
    To our family, we gave our all caring for the sick. This should be published in a book I think it
    Would be a best seller. Someone needs to tell the what nurses really do. God bless you

  133. Kerianne Dunlap

    Some patients never leave…they stay with us in one way or another. As a new nurse I did not understand how to weave this thread into my life while going back to shifts in ICU/O.R./Ambulance….getting better at it now 14yrs later but also dealing with PTSD. Some of my patients have made me who I am and I dearly care for them still…others I will never forget with tears and a wish that I could have changed the circumstances that took them.
    Thank you to the patients and families that have taken a moment to hold our hands and recognize this….that moment is why I return each day.
    To other nurses/docs/ems….please….let’s take care of each other and be kind to ourselves

  134. Melon

    I often run into a woman whose husband died after a difficult struggle with cancer. He was a really nice man and a loving family. Now when I see his wife she pretends she doesn’t know me. I understand I remind her of a very difficult time. What she doesn’t understand was it was hard for me as well. I truly cared and he touched my heart. It is alright she ignores me if it is easier I hope I was a help at the time

  135. Michelle

    I think this is a wonderful page and says it all, I am a nurse and have worked in several areas, I could be a hospice nurse and have great respect for them as each of my patient die I feel at times a little of me goes with them! Thankfully I have never experienced the negative experience you do! I’m sorry you felt that as WE as nurses I believe have something in us that wants to give our all to others and t times leave nothing left for ourselves family or friends as we are often spent! Please appreciate us a kind look, nod of the head or even a thank you is greatfully appreciated, you are all wonderful people and thank you for being who you are

  136. Deborah m

    Speaking from the experience of being at the bedside of a dying patient I think this piece was very well written.you can’t know what the nurses go through unless you are one.I have spent many a night lying in bed going over and over what I did at the hospital that day.

  137. mandacloye

    As a nurse myself, I have done just as this nurse suggested and pulled the curtain for the last time to care for my patient and say my own goodbyes. I am not an emotional person, but I find that last time to be something that allows me to express my feelings toward my patient. I also try to express my thanks to the families for the privilege, as I feel strongly that it IS a privilege to have cared for their family member. Most families are grateful for this expression from the caregivers.

  138. Deirdre Mc Govern

    I choose to be a little bit alternative, I will be sad, I will cry, then I will take a plant, put your name on it, have you in my garden of dreams, and I will chat when I need council. No one leaves without a piece of them being imprinted on my soul. My garden is quite beautiful, and I appreciate what others might call weeds, I look at them with interest, not my job to poison you, you are here for a purpose too.

  139. mike

    I live with three nurses and I know they can not talk about they work but knowing them as the caring people they are I can tell when they have had a bad week they lay around the house and cry when they think nobody is around so as a father of a nurse in S.S.I and a NURSE IN E.R and a husband of a nurse for 30 years I can promise your family is not forgot and on to the next nurses went in to this field to help people because they love people and I promise you even if nothing could be done they now only did they best they will live the rest of they life wondering if it coukd and they will rember your family member a lot logger than most people because because to them its not just a job they care that’s why they are there

  140. Samantha Santos

    As a Licensed Nurse Assistant I have had the privilege of giving a person many of their “lasts” while still they were still breathing on this earth, just before they pass. It is an honor and a privilege. I have also co-parented, sang to, and somehow inspired patients in my care. They are the most brave, dear, strong, and miraculous people and they have changed and inspired me for the better. *hug*

  141. Ashley Cross

    This is so true, this should be posted in every waiting room for folks to read!!!! As a nurse & being on the other side as a family member, I say “thank you to all the wonderful nurses out there!!!!”

  142. John D

    My wife Nely was a nurse for 40 some years and I can relate to the story you told She didn’t bring home her problems very often but now and then she would share some of them
    Also her happy days when she was able to help save someone’s life
    About three and half years ago after she retired she was diagnosed with the dreaded decease of Alzheimer’s and then to make matters worse last January while we were visiting friends in Bradenton Florida she was struck in the head by a lady who backed her SUV into a crowd at a church parking lot
    She spend the next 5 days in ICU in Blake Hospital Bradenton then in ICU in Sarnia On then ended up on a mental floor in Blue Water Health , the same hospital where she worked all her life.
    The Nursing staff has been nothing but amazing how they cared for her during the next 6 months
    I made it a point to thank them daily and bring them a gift from time to time
    It takes a special person to go into the nursing profession and I got to know this first hand as a spouse and also as I visited with my wife daily
    I now have her at home for as long as possible
    Thank you to all the nurses who care and give more than is asked from them

  143. sharon tremlett

    I’m a nurse in the UK…… I just wanted to commend you for putting these things in writing.
    Although I’m now working in Out-patients I’ve spent many years on the wards and these things are the same this side of the Atlantic,
    God Bless YOU for what you do and for putting this into words many of us can’t…. I’ve said ‘Goodbye’ at various times and as you say, some of them just ‘stay’ with you in ways you can’t explain.

  144. Alma

    After 40years in the profession, I can truly identify with this young man. Nursing is a profession of love, happiness, and sadness all mixed into one but a choice I would do all over again. From a retired RN

  145. Eric Pozo

    I had a patient who thanked me for all the help given and said goodby my friend and closed his eyes and passed away a hell of an experience an incident in my nursing career that I can never forget

  146. Sherrie

    We are all human..we care..its our nature…its a shame that one bad apple can spoil the view of all. Nurses at the VA helped me as my dad was leaving us. I appreciate nurses!

  147. Sheri pie

    As a acute tertiary palliative and now hospice nurse, I have have seen many patients pass, you really captured the essence of it, thank you, it made tear up in joy of how much I appreciate what I can help my patients and families with in end of life. Many times we are the last face a patient sees, and many times we tell them it’s ok to let go whole caressing there forehead snd holding there hand and your right it’s behind closed doors.

  148. maria

    My gram just passed away a few weeks ago. The nurses at the hospital for the hospice unit were awesome. They were so kind to my gram talking to her even though she was unresponsive. The morning she died the nurse just hugged my mom while she cried. I give all nurses a huge thank you becausr I couldn’t do it.

  149. Kay

    I am an intensive care nurse and recently had a situation just like this with a patient that was dying and had no family close enough. The friends did not want to be present at the end and once they said they said their goodbyes and left, I sat and I held her hand and was there for her while she passed. I felt pain for not being able to stop the inevitable and sorrow for her family, but this is part of our role. To care support and show compassion to others in need. I could not bare the thought of anyone dying alone or in discomfort, therefore I treat those how I would want my family treated. As a nurse we hold our emotions high, trying to put everyone else first but we face challenges in our work that nobody should have to on a day to day basis. Some people just feel we are they only people to blame when grief strikes. We are people too and they may not be related to us but every patient has an impact and we do our best for all of them.

  150. deborah

    This is beautifully said and heartwarmingly felt. As a nursing assistant, i could not have expressed any other way. It has been an honor and gift to have had the pleasure of meeting family and caring for loved ones. I am so blessed.

  151. renee bowyer

    Thank you for posting this. You stated it eloquently. I am a night shift R.N. and lately I have been taking care of a lot of patients having to transfer to Hospice care. They have been to far in in there prognosis to be discharged home, in turn I have been at the beside with the families during the loved ones last hours…and wondering how I am going to explain my tear filled eyes and reddened face to the remaining patients on my team and remain focused on their needs as well.Thank you again.

  152. Marjorie Hopkins

    This made me cry…20 years of Critical Care Nursing…I have said Goodbyes many times, many ways…to young and old alike. The ones that made me cry hardest, was when we said Goodbye to our own colleagues…our own nurses, aides, secretaries, Doctors, housekeepers, hospital staff we worked with and loved…from diseases, sickness, accidents…But no matter who they were, or how they died, I said a silent prayer over each, for we all deserve to find heaven after this crazy life!

  153. Maureen Ray

    I am a school psychologist and work with individuals and families who deal with lifelong disabilities and life threatening situations while still trying to make the most of their day to day lives. We ALL need people like you to bring the joy of living and humor back to our lives!! PLEASE continue on doing what you do!! So beneficial to many!!!

  154. Lori

    It’s the same for us doctors too! We cry on the way home, and carry the hurt for a long time. We also carry the guilt of not being able to ‘save’ our patients, as if it was always up to us. But I do absolutely appreciate you nurses who care so much as well.

  155. cdhfamilyinablender

    Our son was in NICU and PICU earlier this year and wound up on ECMO. Through his short life we spent a lot of time talking to our nurses, male and female. We watched them care for our son in ways we couldn’t and weren’t allowed at times because of the machinery. I can’t say that I personally liked all of the nurses, but I can tell you that I had a LOT of respect for all of them and I knew that my son was in good hands when we couldn’t be by his side. Your profession has my respect.

  156. Jane

    The nurses at the hospital where my husband died of lung cancer when he was 36 ( I was 34) were unbelievable ! They were so kind and considerate of my kids and me and family , friends etc … That I was so totally amazed !! I loved them so much . They were so kind considering the job they have to do that I brought in a basket of chocys the week after he died . They all cried and I had a lot of trouble keeping my shit together . You all do an amazing job at these times of heartbreak . Thank you to all the nurses that have to deal with death . You are all angels xxx

  157. Pingback: On Saying Goodbye | Fecal Matters

  158. Steve

    Optimist for a moment. One of the strongest moments as a nursing student many years ago was seeing a childbirth – one of the first people in the world to be able to say “hello” to a newborn baby …. rather than one of the last to say “goodbye” in someone’s life.

  159. Ann smith

    My role is caring for people who in there own home are coming to the end of there life I feel very honored to do this and I care deaply about the person and the families that I come into contact with this has touched me and most of the people I care for appreciate what I do

  160. Yolanda Lucero

    I love it..Nursing is a calling..whether your a nurse or a CNA etc. It is truly an honor that God almighty would ALLOW US. .to care for His people. .It is HIM. who annoints our hearts, our hand’s and our lives to enable us to speak words of encouragement or sometimes healing heart words. . As a hospice CNA I am so richly blessed that God has allowed me to care for His people, to laugh with them, cry with them, to listen to them, pray with them. . And the Greatest HONOR. . TO LOVE THEM.. Thank you GOD. . THANK YOU. . FOR YOUR FAITH IN US. . THAT WE WOULD ACCOMPLISH WHAT YOU SENT US FOR. . TO LOVE THEM. .. WITH YOUR LOVE. ..

  161. Kim Nelson

    Sadly, life does have an expiration date! We do not know how or when, I would share that I hope someone like you is by my side, you took your very valuable time to write and post this, So thank you in advance! Respectfully.

  162. Kelsay Irby

    I work at a veteran’s retirement home and this sums up my experience beautifully. It is just as much an honor to be present at the end of someone’s life as it is to be there at the beginning. (And just as emotional.) I have placed my face against a dying person’s cheek and whispered to them “Thank you, for allowing me to care for you. It’s been my privilege. Be at peace.” I wipe my tears and swallow the lump in my throat and hug the family as I would hug my own. Thank you for a great article!

  163. Kimberly Kay Matthews

    Thank you so much for writing this post. I lost my mother on Christmas Day 2014. I want you to know our nurse was a life line. She prayed with us, she came to our home all hours night and day, she helped our family say goodbuy but most of all, she showed us in everyway how much she cared for not only my mother but for all of us. Please never change. Your heart and your true kindness makes a difference. I can not even imagine how hard it is to do your job. I’m sure you must think of these families at all times. Just know without you and their faith, these familes would be lost. The kindness and goodness you show to these terminally ill patients will only come back in 10 fold. God gives us special angels like you to remind us he is always there.
    Much love and prayers to you.. God bless you.

  164. Darla

    I love being a nurse and have had many patients and families that I will never forget. Being allowed by the patient and their family to give the care they need is very special and there are moments no one can take from us

  165. arour tutor

    Thank you to all the nurses who cared for me and stabilized me when I was very sick and scared. I’m alive because of their care and following drs orders and doing their jobs as best as possible at that exact moment. Thank you even when I made your job hard. Thank you for choosing this field.

  166. Lisa

    I just want to say that when my mother was in the Critical Care Unit at skyline medical center in Nashville I was told she was septic and her prognosis was not good. I entered her room many times as did the nurse that was caring for her and each time it was obvious that my mothers condition was deteriorating. My mom was in pain and uncomfortable and while I knew the outcome I tried to comfort her. Tears streamed down my cheeks with every “it will be ok mama”. And I looked up at the nurse and tears were streaming down her cheeks as well. It was a very long 4 hours before we let her go and I can’t remember the nurses name but I will never forget how much compassion was in her eyes and down her cheeks the night my mom died. For all nurses I have so much respect for you all. I can only say thank you for all you do, everyday!

  167. Becky

    Words will never replace the power of touch! UNCONDITIONAL love is amazing! Nurses always want to be there for patients and famililies! and each other! Life is a journey we take good and bad! Many people’s life are toched on this journey never forgotten! Thank You, Ken for sharing your story!You have touched my heart! Becky

  168. Ernestine Johnson

    Nurses never get used to the death of their patents, we just deal with it, it does hurt, now if you have done your very best, then you need not worry, if this continues and worries you, then perhaps nursing need to be reevaluated.

  169. kathy

    I applaud you You are doing the best you can. I would really like the hours for a nurse or any personnel who are doing 12 hours shifts. census show’s that after 8 hours of work the quality and alertness starts to really slow down and 12 hours your getting burnt out Just saying You people have a lot on your shoulders and you should take care of yourselves so you can keep helping us sick people

  170. virginiallorca

    A doc who was kind of intimidating, but always got along with my daughter, RN, asked for her to be his nurse when he was dying from pancreatic cancer. She was honored and they kidded back and forth about their “attitudes” until the end.

  171. darla

    As A nurse we all have our moments to that we share by caring from our hearts not just our minds as we go about our shifts. We make the time to reach out and care for each patient and their families. We can make a difference.

  172. Debra

    I have been a long term care geriatric nurse for just over thirty years and have been fighting breast cancer for the last five years. I have missed work now and again for chemo and such, but I never quit my work. I have wanted to be a nurse ever since I was about six years old, so that’s what I grew up to be. In long term care, sometimes we ( the staff-nurses, housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, etc) are the only visitors some of these people get. It is not the family’s fault. Some live in other states, some have all passed away already, some have very busy jobs with terrible long hours. But, we are there for those patients day in and day out. We love them with hugs and kisses, holding their hands, running to the store for something special they want. or just sitting and visiting with them. When it is at the end of their life, we get to sit and hold their hand and stroke their brow and just love them without saying a word. It has always been an honor to do this for these folks that can’t have their family with them at that time. Most of my patients are aware that my cancer has metastasized to the bones now and I have only a few more years to be with them. Yes, I have a loving husband, seven grown children and 11 grand children. I am expecting the arrival of my first great grand-child this August and am very excited about that!!! But my husband knows that to be a nurse is and always has been in my heart and he encourages me to continue to work as long as I feel like I want to……and I always want to. My patients love me right back and hold my hand and tell me I did things right and I am a good Momma and such. It makes them feel just as important and special to be there for me as if I were their own family by blood. They are so sweet to me all the time. I know I make a difference, I just know I do especially when the ones with a dementia or psychosis diagnosis (who can’t make their needs known or communicate clearly and such) color me a picture, bring it to my office and hug me with tears in their eyes. Guess they don’t have the degree, but they are all good nurses too. Nurse rock the heart every time!!!!!!!!

  173. Nikki Hatcher

    What a great article. I have had the privilege of saying goodbye to many patients in the midnight hour. My heart stings at the loss, but how honored I am to be a part of such a moment in time. My patients never leave alone. My privilege, and my honor to bring comfort to them. So very blessed to be a nurse. ❤️

  174. Elizabeth Gardiner

    my husband was dying of cancer. He had nurses come to the house before he went into hospice. One of the nurses who came to the home also worked part-time at the hospital, and she was with us all when he passed away. She even came to the visitation and gave me an angel pin. She was an angel herself. This meant so much for my husband to have someone near and to us when he passed. I thank her from the bottom of my heat.

  175. Debbie

    I worked for almost 10 years as a CNA….and this article couldn’t be more true! Thank you for putting into words what is so hard to explain to people sometimes! I’ll never forget the patients and family members I took care of….they all touched my heart in different ways! :)

  176. Reba Hargrove

    Thank you for writing this. Sometimes the grief that overwhelms a family who is losing a dear one engulfs so much we often forget that nurses and care givers are grieved and we don’t think to thank them appropriately for their tender touch and caring thoughts about our loved ones. I hope this touches heart chords and let’s ppl know that you are human with deep feelings, as well. Thank you nurses everywhere for what you do!! Blessings and kudos for being so caring and tender hearted.

  177. Gay Bennett

    I could never be a nurse, my Dad was on Hospice as well as my Mom and what these nurses do is beyond anything you can imagine. My Dad said after 2 days on Hospice said I love your Mother and never loved any other woman like I do your Mother BUT in the past 2 days I have fallen in love with two different women! I was there I saw what they did for him, Dad only lasted 5 days and had only 4 nurses of which he said he fell in love 4 of those last 5 days…I told them Thank You but it was never enough for me…there are no words to express just how much it meant to me to have taken such great and loving care of my Dad as they did. I am FOREVER GREATFUL TO THEM AS I WAS WITH THE TREATMENT OF MY MOM SIX YEARS LATER! Thank you to all nurses you are special people!

  178. Patricia Novenski

    Very well said.. I have been a nurse since 1973 and have had the privilege of caring for people preparing to transition from this world mote times than I can remember.I have held hands, hugged, cried, empathized, sympathized, and know I did the best I could for for the dying and their loved ones. I would do it all over again and I am proud of myself and my fellow nurses. Carry on and thank you

  179. VJ

    I’m on my 3rd year as a nursing student and learning a lot in the process. I recently befriended a 20 year old patient during my clinicals. He wasn’t doing to well but continued to visit him after my rounds were over in that area. The last day I visited him, his mother said that that was the first time he had opened his eyes and tried to communicate in days. Not even a day after, my patient had died. A lot of people tell me that he had waited to see me before he died. I didn’t really know the impact of my nursing towards him until that moment. I know I’m going to go through more experiences like this but I learned at an early stage that I know there will be people that leave, people that might stay and people that will die in my care, the most important thing I can do is to just care for my patient and spend the day making sure they are cared for in their most vulnerable moments. The pay off is when you see them smile(specially in Peds!) I know this is going to be one hell of a ride but I’m very excited for my future doing this.

  180. Vera Gehrke

    Ty for listening & caring for us«nurses that share your time with your loved ones. When u r not there cuz of everyday needs u need to get though also. We’ll show your loved ones the care & respect that u want in your short absents.
    We care love & respect them as there r our own loved ones

  181. Jack Dalton

    My son passed away Nov 30 2014 at hospice. The nurses and aides were fantastic. Yes, there were some times when it got to me and I didn’t react properly. I thanked these fine people who were stuck with the terrible job of trying to ease the transition to death. I personally don’t have the courage or moral fiber to do this very needed job. I prayed for my son, and then I prayed for his care givers. God bless you for your care and compassion.

  182. marvin knapp

    This is so good, sister-in-law is a nurse. I see what she goes through. Being called out all hours of the night, how tired she is when she goes home. But she would not have it any other way, my opinion she is great at being a nurse, she cares for her patients

  183. John Tallon

    My name is John and I have been a nurse in the same hospital for 35 yrs. , I truly appreciate what you have wrote. Thank you for articulating so well. I have recently joined GS hospice per diem and find helping people transition is rewarding.

  184. Audrey Troke

    I still remember my first nursing job and having to deal with the impending death of my first patient. I was tearful, and asked one of my preceptors, “when does it get easier”? When will I do this without crying, without my heart breaking?”. She replied, “when that day comes, when it is ‘easy’ and you do not or cannot cry, it is time to choose another career.” That was 22 years ago, and the tears still come. Thank you for sharing this beautiful article!

  185. Dave

    I recently lost my mother a month ago.i said thanks to the nurses that nite but missed telling the other caregivers anything.havent been back to the home where she passed think of them often..read this and brought a flood of tears.Beautifully written. God bless you people.you make things a lot easier to accept. Thanks once again

  186. Carolyn Humphrey

    Wonderfully said. As a nurse I carry those who we gave sat beside held their hand and watched slip away in my heart. I feel like we provide not only care for our patients but support love and compassion to the family as well. May god bless you and comfort you as you make a difference in not only your patents life but a life long difference in the family’s as well.

  187. Mary Jean Mcdonald

    i am not a nurse but i have been honored to be a main carediver in 3 instances in my life taught by 2 of the most magnificent gifted nurses that GOD HAS SO GRACIOUSLY PROVIDED my father opted to die at home and i opted to see him do just what he chose and with the help of 2 VON nurses who taught me to do injections and bed care and charting and blood presSures and many other things on the long four year journey with prostrate cancer that had metastisized into his hip bones i was able to grant him his wish i held him and they held me together God has made them so special and when my grandaughter became a nurse and was told that she should not get too attached and then after caring for 5 of her people in nursing home for 4 years she lost 5 of them in one week and she called to talk to me because she did not find any help from the do not get attached theory and she was grieving her heart out i calmly explained that to do what they said she would need a heart of stone and if she had that she would not be a nurse
    so instead of a heart of stone GOD GAVE HER A HEART THAT WAS A BIG TENDER MUSCLE AND UNLIKE A STONE WHICH WOULD SHATTER AND BREAK UNDER PRESSURE THE MUSCLe GETS SORE AND HURTS AND IS BRUISED BUT IF YOU DO NOT FIGHT iT AND SHED A FEW HEALING TEARS IT WILL ALL GET BETTER AnD YOU WILL BE A RICHER HAPPIER PERSON YOU SEE SCHOOLS TEACH nuRSING BUT ONLY God makes nurses and so HE EQUIPS THEM WITH SPECIAL HEARTS DO NOT LET ANY COUnCILLOR OR ANYONE ELSE SPOIL the GIFT YOU HAVE YOU ARE SO BLESSED BY YOUR CALLING AND SUCH A BLESSING TO ALL WHO NEED YOU

  188. Kari Hutson

    When my grandmother was dying one of the only people who gave me comfort was her nurse. She told me that it was ok to cry, it was ok to question, it was ok to be angry, but to never let go of the love that I felt for my grandmother and I knew she felt for me. While at the time her words didn’t do much, now looking back almost 13 years later I know that they came from a wonderful person with a kind heart. She had seen so much and was trying to give me a glimps into the secret of healing. Now my daughter is going through medical issues, and during her nerology, phycology, and doctors appointments I try to thank both the doctor and the nurse for listening. For while nurses are healiers they are also confidants and emotional support in so much! So to all the nurses who may read this….Thank You! Thank you for giving of your time and help. You’re the people who make others comfortable and at ease. so Thank You!

  189. jackie

    My aunt was cared for by a wonderful team of nurses who on the heart breaking day we lost her we could see the obvious grief in their faces, it broke their hearts to tell us she was gone, their compassion was so much appreciated in our time of grief x

  190. Sherry Bass Ogburn

    How thankful for the nurses that helped with our Mama & Daddy’s. our loved ones. Grandma , aunts & uncle’s or our friends. Thankful for the care they recieved while under your care. Much love did yall with hospic give our loved ones. Absolutely became part of our family. How hard to keep things togather when we knew they were leaving us to soon but in God’s time. I have the deepest recpect for the job all of you have. From the ones that gave bathes & changed beds. Would leave with tears when saying good~bye. Thank you for giving the love & care for our loved ones & us. I have great recpect for all nurses or care givers. From our families to your family’s thank you. Knowing you had to leave your family to take care of ours. Always grateful for the nurses of hospic. And all nurses. We thank you. Godbless + <3

  191. Melissa Hall Hartsell

    If you never heard me whisper it’s ok, or you’re not alone, they are on their way, or I’m here with you the light shines bright just for you then you must have already been in the light. My deepest condolences for the families that care for their dying loved ones. I dont know if the Angels blessed me with the gift of helping one soul pass to the other side or not, sometimes it hurts so bad I think it a curse. The two that always shine bright for me are the twins, 18yrs old on their way to see family who both died days apart, but the brother died the day the sister was to be laid to rest. That family may never remember my name or face but I hope I made a difference–no, I know I did. Now, management put a price on that if it was your daughter or son & let your new GN take care of them as you desperately try to prevent them from progressing to brain death. See what it is worth to you.

  192. michelle Corbally

    As a career I fully understand all of these feelings, to many goodbyes so much saddness, going home to my family trying not to be affected by what the day has been. Getting so close to patients laying that person out is that one last thing we can give, yes there are also good times its not all gloom, we are a TEAM for 13 hours a day. we all need each other from start to finish the circle of life! be nice to everyone you might need them some day x

  193. Robert Wisniewski

    I am a grizzled old gray haired man 63 years old. I am a combat wounded Viet Nam veteran. I have also been a nurse for 30 years. I have said many goodbyes. I have sat beside a dying patient who was abandoned by his family and held his hand until he passed. I have cared for dying children. I have also cried so hard that it physically hurt. I work at a V.A. hospital and have watched a parade of young wounded men and women pass by my station. And I have cried. But on the other hand I have cried during the birth of a child. Yes nurses cry. Even the men.

  194. Karin White

    I learned that I have late stage 3 Peritoneal cancer in Oct.14 th and since that time I have been hospitalized 3 times. Twice in the past 10 days on a dedicated cancer floor. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but without a doubt I know it takes a special heart to deal with patients where you can see death in their faces. Every nurse who has cared for me, either through the meds I require but make me sick, or the comfort of their touch has earned their place in heaven. Too bad you can’t refer the “smart month” to those of us of us who know their true worth. I think we could pin a few ears back.

  195. deb jean

    My mom was a nurse. I have always had highest regards for what they do. I could not do your job. You are very special people. Thank you!

  196. Sandy

    Nurses are amazing people. It takes a special person to do that career. They are very caring and the person they are caring for along with their family can get very attached to those care givers.

  197. Barbara Ellis

    I am the administrative assistant to the Chief Nurse Executive at a 450 bed hospital. I know how hard nurses work and how they feel about their patients. It is hard tiring work. They deserve the utmost respect and honor.

  198. Victoria seni

    I pray for people like YOU – the one who wrote the article. And those like you. The world needs more of you. Rest easy and thank you. I hope when my aging ailing parents get to the hospital again – i hope they are assisted by someone -just-like- YOU!

  199. Margot

    I am a nurse- of many years experience. We are the “intimate strangers…” strangers, advocates, keepers of the deepest secrets…and strangers again at the end.

  200. Linda

    So very true….I actually broke down in front of the husband…I still see him occasionally many years later and he always tells me “I will never forget that day…I just didn’t know” he didn’t know tgat her pain and suffering hurt me also…gives me a HUG every time I see him! ♡

  201. Tammy

    being an aid for 4 years and a nurse for 3, I still cry my eyes out and my heart breaks while I hold their hand as they take that last breathe. I love my patients as I do my own family.

  202. Terry Pettus

    Very Touching. I have lost two love ones. The nurses that took care of them were the best ever. It can’t be easy to go take care of someone for any lengthy of time and not get attached to them, their family and love ones. I’m sure they feel our lose as much as anyone. I’m so glad that there are people out there that can do this day in and day out. As for me, I couldn’t do it at all. My heart goes out to all Nurses that care for patients they know are only here for a little while longer.
    Thanks again.

  203. LeeAnn

    I am a PICU nurse and have been for approx 30 years.I always new I wanted to be a nurse to help people and take care of them.I still find it hard when a child dies .I recently came to work and was told your going to MRI with a critical child that needed BP support which is always tricky getting them ready to go and monitoring them during the MRI . Well the scan was horrible the child had meningitis which is uncommon these days.I knew as we went back to the unit that the child would most likely progress to brain death .As I made small talk with the patents,asked if they had other children and they replied no he is our little miracle,the father was told earlier that he may never be able to father a child.The child was approx 2 years old.Our physician came in and gave them the bad MRI report .He had the MRI due to equal pupils but not responding and when we came back one pupil blew which means it was very large and did not respond and then a few hours later both pupils blew.First the mom just was sitting and bent over and just started to sob.Initially the dad just sat there then had more questions for our Physian and it was just mom to mom she got up held her child’s hand I hugged her we did share tears ,how can you not when it’s a child.I work 12 hour night shifts and it was a long night .I took good care of him,made sure he looked as most like himself althought he was on life support.I was off for a few days after that and it was one of the hardest days for me .I called work a couple of times and found out he was a donor.He had pneumococcal meningitis but not positive blood cultures so he could be a donor.In our unit when a child dies we have a basket of things for staff a flameless candle burns for a few days and there is info for staff on how to to take care of yourself,aromatherapy things we can take,cards to send to the family if you want.We also have glass stones that we can take to help us remember these patients.Unfortunateley over the years I have many.I have found over the years I have learned how to talk to parents and families in these situations and not break down.I have learned how to support these families.But some like this child it is very hard .There are many I still think about and wonder how the families are doing.Also at the end of the year,I think our social workers do this (by the way they are wonderful) there are paper hearts in a bowl and we can take one out remember them and place it in a heart shaped bowl to remember the children we have taken care of.That morning when I went home the parents actually were finally getting some sleep and I said my goodbyes to the child because I knew he wasn’t going to survive.It helps me more than anyone would think.If this helps any nurse I also have done my job.I feel I still have years to work and hopefully I can mentor new nurses through this process .I also hope this may help other nurse out there in other critical care units,adult or peds units.

  204. Shera Moran-Cairel

    this is so tru anyone e for s o workemany of us of tetimes we have sleepless night there is nothing worse than wanting to tell somebody that you fixed it knowing that you can’t knowing that it makes you less of a person to give false hope then to give truth everything in the all of us wants to say it’ll be ok but you know by saying that you always break There heart when it’s not. people say this is unkind sometimes the bearer of bad news sometimes it hurts us more than it hurts you having to tell you mom maybe didn’t mean a lot to you but why she is with me she mattered. I’ve held hands for 6 hours after shift only to ensure that the patient didn’t die alone this is more true than anyone will ever understand because I will not tell anyone I worked18 hours and 6 hrs over I didn’t call somebody and tell them what an amazing job at done, I feel this reassured by the fact that she did not die alone and what other side of it didn’t matter she is my patient and I love her

  205. M.S. Gaither

    I have worked at a hospital for 19 years and have worked with many different nurses, they were all very caring and take great care of your love ones. I am honored to have known them all. God bless all you nurses for all you do.

  206. TeenCNA

    I’m just a teen but I work at a nursing home. I love my residents and I remember when one of my favorites passed away. I know they always say don’t have favorites but like this said there are ones that you will never forget. She was such a wonderful person and she taught me not to give up by her constant fight against time. She even taught me it is possible to love someone you barely know. I was really messed up when she passed. No one knew what was going through though. They just knew that I wasn’t acting normal. Nurses and everyone else that has something to do with Healthcare knows what this article and I said is true and know how it feels. We are usually underappretiated by families that don’t want to accept the truth but we do it anyway.

  207. Mary Schmieg

    My sister passed away 20 yrs ago & I will never forget her oncology nurse – Mary Faith. She went above & beyond- she was so awesome & would lusten to he about he fears. The last week my sister went into a coma & she was moved to ICU. She had wonderful nurses there too. They not only cared for her her but cared for us as famy too. We saw the dignity they gave her until the very last minute if her life. I will always remember Laural for rubbing lotion on her legs, feet, arms because hervskin was so dry. I know it was so the sores didn’t break open & get infected but was the way she did it, so gentle & caring. 20 years layer & I can remember how special all the nurses were for my sister & all of us. I will always be so greatful for all of them. Thank you for doing everything you do. You are all very special people!!!

  208. jolena

    I am a nurse aide. I first started this type of work last jan. As days went by spending so much time with residents. (I work in a nursing home) They became part of my family doing so much for them they began to feel like my grand parents. There was 1 particular resident that I would sing to because he wouldn’t cooperate for anyone else. We would sing “you are my sunshine”. Well he ended up getting sick. The family got wind of him and I singing together and asked me to step in one day while they were visiting because they knew that I would be off for a couple days. They asked me to sing you are my Sunshine to him one last time incase he passed away while I was off. That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life so as tears were rolling down my face I sang to him one last time. He passed away just a few hours after that. These people become family and have a special place in our hearts.

  209. J. Ervin Bates

    I absolutely loved this piece! I am a Hospice Aide (3 years now), and my CNA Instructor, an incredibly talented RN I will treasure the rest of my life, awakened the skillset for working in this environment within me. I count it a blessing to work side by side with wonderful nurses, because they have taught me how to do well in my chosen field. And I would like to think that some of their passion has stirred even more passion within me. I love my work….and I have turned down much more money in other work because of it.

    Some people do not comprehend what we do in the Hospice field, and even moreso wihtin the Healthcare field as a whole. That’s ok, because we let our lights shine despite them no knowing, and the patients know anyway. :-) My best to you, and thank you for sharing this with us!

    Deepest Regards,
    J. Ervin Bates, CNA/CHPNA
    Mason, MI

  210. Deb

    This is beautifully touching. Nurses find that they are obligated to perform far too many paperwork and other tasks rather than spend the majority of their time giving the hands-on care they hoped to provide when they chose and pursued their profession. Their hours are unrealistic and overly demanding. Granted, as with all professions, there are nurses who strive to excel and make a recognizable difference in a patient’s care vs those who simply do not, but I hope to remember this article the next time I find myself or a loved one in the care of a nurse.

  211. richard

    I have a deep feeling for the nurses who care for the terminally ill and there family members who love there family members.I know we all will pass at one time. The nurses must not become callus to death even though they deal with it on a daily basis. It’s so sad that we all must pass, and that the nurses are usually the last person a patient sees before passing other than a close family member! God bless all!

  212. Elaine

    I have been a nurse for 47 years and a CNA for six years before that. I still remember crying with many a family and trying to control tears with the patient, always just trying to keep them comfortable and letting them know someone cared. I wll always be a nurse at heart wheather I am working or retired. I love people.

  213. Velicia McElhaney

    My daughter is graduating from nursing school next year she will need this.I’m not a nurse but a technician and it is very hard for the nurses who work so hard to care for a live one who is passing or is very I’ll.

  214. Susie

    Thank you to all the nurses who have been in our lives, through the birth of our children to the death of our loved ones. We don’t appreciate you enough!!

  215. pac

    In response to this nurse, thank you, thank you, thank you…. I am a PA, whose chile was in PICU for a month this past summer and told twice by two different doctors she would not recover. The nurses went far and above to comfort not only my child, but my husband and me. I don’t know how we would have survived without these wonderful ladies (she only had female nurses). Several nights they would spend trying to console and comfort her pain. Just a few weeks ago, we were able to take my child back to the PICU to “meet” some of these ladies for the first time. This was the first time they heard her speak and saw her on her feet. It was the least we could do, to show them what they helped happen. Eyes were not dry and arms were not left empty. I will always hold these special people in my heart and I applaud those who give more than their all. Thank you nurses…….

  216. Donna Simpson

    More than likely few understand if they have never walked in your shoes. I have never been a nurse but I have been in a profession where I’m off the clock but the condition of a person \ patient remains on my mind. I just pray for all involved and pray for my strength to deal with emotionally difficult situations.

  217. robin

    GoD Bless our doctors and nurses and medical staffers. I pray you always remember kindness in the midst of your busy days and that you always begin each challenge with a short wink to God ❤️

  218. Heather

    Tears. So well written. As a family member. Numb. Unable to eat or sleep….I saw every kind act by the nurses and doctors. I saw and I thank God for them.

  219. Hal wright

    It is verY true since I was with my 92 years old mother. I asked a nurse how my mother was doing and for first time the nurse declined to answer my simple question. I would appreciate if I get honest reply. Why not a nurse be honest and straight with me?

  220. maria irace

    I Was an ICU nurse for 30 years, never did learn to leave my patients at the hospital. I brought them home with me in thought, went to many wakes in scrubs just to say good bye or express sympathy to families. A good nurse does feel it a privelege to care for our patients. It is hard to say good bye but I never left a patient to die alone. I always held their hand and whispered how much their family loved them. We recover to work another day but never think we’ve ever forgotten them.

  221. dutchanne

    Relationship based care at its best and its worst. We nurses know how to “give til it hurts”, piling up grief upon grief, but we have trouble feeling justified to take care of ourselves. Yay for the caretakers! Keep up the great work. You deserve a break today!

  222. dan gardner

    When my wife was living her last days it was the nurses that gave her the comfort that she needed when i could not be there. Because of their experience with death it was them that I went to when comfort was needed after her passing. God bless you all and the valuable service you provide.

  223. nursedeb57

    I’ve been a nurse for 18 years and it’s so hard sometimes to say goodbye to that patient, to be there to support the family, it does make us sad when they go, we have a bond with them, whether it’s only for a few hours, days or even years, we feel the loss. We don’t always show it but it’s there, that’s what being a nurse is all about.

  224. Nate

    Mother-daughter work day. I was 12.
    Mom is charge nurse in ICU. Small town, so not a lot of action in the unit. Mom also covers the ‘floor’ with a couple other nurses, and monitors the rooms for patients in the many rooms down the [one] hall.
    I was given menial tasks: fold gowns, pick up trays for housekeeping, watch Mom hand-write charts. (She showed me every bit of charting, has beautiful, legible handwriting, and explained how she deciphered each doc’s orders. Still baffled.)
    An older man came in after a stroke, and Mom met with the family after he’d been admitted, explaining he will recover and needed some rest. Mom told the relatives he would stay for a few days, and the wife wanted to stay with him. The 20-something son watched over his dad while his mom went to the house to get an overnight bag.
    Less than an hour later, I was downstairs (ER), dropping off treats.
    I heard the sirens from behind the desk, saw a woman on a stretcher with her top off (holy what the-this is new), an EMT working feverishly on her chest, up on his knees an the left side of her while they were wheeled into the bay.
    I knew her. I KNEW HER. I told Susie (?) that her family was talking to my mom. She asked if I knew the lady’s name, and I said, “No, but she was talking to my mom.”
    Long story short:
    Husband has stroke.
    Family meets at hospital.
    Wife goes home to gather incidentals.
    Wife has heart attack and passes.
    Watched my mother tell the husband and son that the wife/mother passed.
    That’s what I know of being a nurse first hand.
    If dreamed of being a nurse before that moment.
    NO. THANK. YOU.

    My parents met in nursing school after my dad completed his Air Force training and my mom graduated from high school.
    Dad lasted only a few years in the profession. A technical man, he exceeded in computer software and application. [I understand he lost a close friend in his own ER due to a leg break (bleed out?) but Dad never would talk about why he moved on.]
    Dad passed several years ago.
    But Mom! Mom still deals with others’ pain day in and day out. She’s a true caregiver. She won’t quit. She’s my hero.
    SHE’S MY HERO.

  225. Susan Guerra

    I will never forget the very first patient that died on me, he was a 30 somethin cancer patient on a morphine drip , i would go in to talk to him and at the end of my working days i told him i would see him on monday, when i came back to work aftet the weekend off, he wasnt there anymore , i never got to say goodbye;(

  226. Inger Yusten

    I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to all of you nurses out there. And to say God bless you for everything you do for all of us when we or a loved one is sick or sadly dieing. I had to spend guite a long time in the hospital after my surgery seven years ago. And during that time I realized how much nurses have to do to make us comfortable and well. I was also amazed at the patients they have, because some people aren’t very nice when they don’t feel good. I know you don’t hear it enough, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

  227. Wendy Beaman

    Even if I forget ur name I don’t forget the situation ur feelings, mine & ur families. It sticks to us forever. Like I said names come & go but that feeling stays for eternity. Know ur loved one made as much an impact on me as I hope I did them. That’s my hope as a nurse.

  228. Rachel

    THANK YOU for caring for my loved one, even in the last moments, I feel like the words alone don’t show my appreciation enough, keep caring for all those who need You your doing an incredible job!

  229. Kim Chester

    What a lovely and, so true, testimony for all the wonderful & devoted nurses. I loved being an ICU nurse and took great comfort from being able to provide compassion & care. I was always aware that my patients could easily be one of my own family members. I hope that my family members , when hospitalized, will be fortunate enough to receive compassion from a caring & committed nurse. I know that such individuals are EVERYWHERE.

  230. Montague

    I’ve been a nurse in LTC for a long time… 19 years this year. I’ve come to a place where I accept death as a natural part of the life cycle, and I don’t consider it the enemy but the natural end of a life. It often relieves suffering that I can’t do anything about, no matter how much morphine I give or how many times I hug the family… and I do all those things. But I try very hard to help the family reach a place of understanding that not a thing to be feared, but to be embraced in it’s time. This allows me to be calm and dry eyed when a family member needs someone to be calm and deliberate and not visibly upset. I often see family members who are able to ‘bootstrap’ themselves into a calm state of mind when shown a calm, accepting face in the midst of the uncertainty and fear that most of us feel when confronted by death. The acknowledgement of death as a part of the natural order is the last lesson that our elderly can teach us, and I honor them for it.

  231. sharon

    I work 12 & a half hr night shifts I’ve worked nights for 27 yrs and never know staff moral so low…you come work our job for a month ….then comment. ..sharon wirral

  232. Tiffany

    Our Dear Lord decides when where how we die. For the Lord to put me in someone’s life as they take their last breath is an honor! An honor to love and care for them at this time …. for their families and comfort them as well. I know my patient will have the utmost in care at this time….

  233. John Keyes

    I was the patient again. I had a partial amputation then a wound vac. A few months later, a below the knee amputation. Then 2 1/2 yr later, my heart stopped for 40 minutes. Nurses are my heroes. They are my life line. The docs get credit but nurses are now part of my family. I truly feel I would not be here if it wasn’t for them. I appreciate their concerns, expertise, love, understanding, and tireless dedication. Thanks for sharing this article. And, if by chance, any of my nurses read this….Thank you from the bottom of my heart and please, we so appreciate you and your efforts. Nurses are THE BEST !!!!!!!

  234. Mary McSweeney

    It would be great for all nurses to have your compassion and most of them do. Occasionally you get one that can use a lesson in compassion. Many years ago when a loved one had to be removed from life support by a nurse. We were told that two people had to witness the signing of the paper allowing them to remove life support. This nurse was rather insensitive telling us to just go out on the street and ask two people to sign as witnesses. It was difficult enough having to make this decision, how could we ask two perfect strangers to witness this. I know they deal with things like this on a daily basis but I think she could have been a little more tactful.

  235. A LEASON

    I have always made a point of saying thank you to every Nurse That comes into my room, not only because I was raised to say please and Thank you especially to those doing things/caring for me. But also because during my several hundred hospital visits over the years I have never met a single nurse whom did not try his/her best to ensure I had everything I needed or wanted. I have never had a nurse be rude to me, nor has any of them ever done anything to directly hurt me or my family, therefore they deserve my respect. I know that losing a loved one is hard. I have lost many. However the nurses caring for our loved one becomes like family after caring for the one we love. Therefore just as any other family member delivering bad news, the nurses deserve respect. They take hours to deliver such news because they are looking for any possible option to help the one we love! However some times there is nothing that can be done. Nature will always take its course as it is ready, not at any one else’s choosing. The last Nurse to give me bad news I thought she was going to cry when I started to, so I hugged her, and said thank you for trying, and we cried together for a few minutes. Nurses are amazing peoples, we should never forget it.

  236. richard

    Thank you all, for all that you do…..this made me cry and also made me happy that those loved ones we have lost , were loved deeply in their hour of need xxxx

  237. Mary Craig

    So very well said. I have had people that I have been with when their loved one passed away, hunt me up just to speak to me. We have that common bond of the care of their loved one.. My hope is that when my loved ones or myself are placed in the position of leaving this world that I might have someone who is truly a caring person to take care of them/me. I have worked with alot of nurses through the years and have found some to be robotic and not caring but if you are truly a “called” nurse, you won’t be that kind of nurse. You will be the one that gives your all for the comfort of your patient and their family members. Thank you for the encouraging words.

  238. Jim Fanelli

    I started my own hospice after being a hospice nurse for several years. We opened weeks ago. This article really explains the honor and privilege it is to be allowed to care for the sick and dying along with their friends and families. For someone to open their doors and invite us in to care for their loved ones is an amazing experience. To learn about someone’s whole life, listen to their memories, meet their entire family and friends, to laugh together, to cry together, and to bond together is a reward in the workplace that is extremely unique to hospice. Moments I will take with me when my time comes. Thank you to all who allow hospice in to bring as much comfort and peace as possible during such a difficult time. -Jim Fanelli, Tender Love & Care Hospice http://www.tlchospiceinc.com 630-780-6222

  239. Jack olihan

    I fully respect the nursing family. My wife passed away from lung cancer, the hospice nurse stayed with my daughter and I. She was off duty, but she stayed and helped us, till my wife took her last breath. She also said goodbye to her, along with us. Nurses are so precious!

  240. John

    As a NICU RN that just had to transition my Primary last week, this could not have come at a better time for me personally. Thank you for sharing.

  241. James S

    It has always been an honor for me to say good bye. I decided a long time ago, that I was blessed to be in a profession in which I am allowed to make a situation “as right”, “as comfortable”, “as peaceful”, “as familiar” and “as dignified” as the “unfortunate” the situation may be. It may be “fortunate”, depending on what position you sit in. To keep me focused I would say “alright, it’s time and there are no “do overs” so I have to make it count. These are some of the most touching moments to experience and share. I feel pain when I see patients denied this oppurtunity, because I know that they don’t get a “do over”.

  242. Pingback: Shared via Pallimed – Hospice: When A Nurse Says Goodbye | Kitchen Table Devotions | Loss, Grief, Transitions and Relationship Support

  243. linda castaneda

    I would like this forwarded to ICU @ John Muir in Walnut Creek Ca
    We had the best nurses & Drs taking care of my husband for 17days they were so good to all of our family. Even though my husband passed away I know that they did everything that they could have done
    It was just Gods will. I would like to give a big THANKS to all of the ICU Nurses & Drs that took care of my husband
    God bless each & everyone of you
    Linda Castaneda

  244. Pam

    working on an Oncology floor was a blessing and a curse, not sure if only nice people get cancer or if hearing that word changes people’s outlook on life, my patients battling cancer were some of the bravest, kindest, sweetest and more appreciative people that I have ever met and my heart broken more each time one of them lost their battle but those brave souls will always and forever hold a special place in my heart God bless all nurses we have a tough job

  245. madeline

    Chelsea you do A great job and the patients are lucky to have you in their lives . My heart breaks for you that you feel you couldn’t do anything for your brother but the lord called him to be your guardian angel know he is with you .all the things said about you brother where positive how he helped people him must have a greater calling . Be at peace. He truly loved you and could bear bring a burden for you.

  246. Eva

    “The truth is, every one of us would love nothing more than to see you get that miracle you are praying for. But we would rather be the bearers of bad news that the encouragers of false hopes.”

    This quotation and your entire essay were profoundly resonant and moving for me. I’ll never forget the moment my saving-grace nurse looked at me over her nurses’ station counter and said, “You know your mother’s going to die, right?” I was 26. My mother was 51 and dying of ovarian cancer. I looked at her wide-eyed and silently shook my head up and down, mouthing the word “yes.” She said, “I want to have this conversation with you now so that you can begin to have the hard conversations with your sisters. You all still have time left with your Mom, but you need to start thinking about the reality now.” She was so forthright – compassionate and yet no-nonsense. Exactly the voice I needed to speak the truth I knew in my heart but couldn’t verbalize.

  247. Eva

    I’ll add, as well, that the nurse I describe above made the effort to travel and be present for our mother’s funeral four months later. My sisters and I embraced her in a group hug and wept together a cry that could have only come from walking that road together. Nurses are my heroins and heroes.

  248. joyce atkinson

    So sad but it has to be done.its part of life and a nurse has to prepare for this.not easy. But necessary. I love good nurses that have compassion. Where would we be without good nurses? . Love you Tammy i know you take care of your patients.

    It

  249. eanda Lamon

    Have been a nurse for 30 years and this is so true we do care deeply for our patients and we do cry with them,laugh with them and if they ask to talk about what’s going on we talk and listen to them and hold their hands because we care being a nurse is not about the money or just a job it’s more than that we truly care

  250. Debbie Wollangk

    Thank GOD for nurses for the emotional and physical ability to do what many people can’t! Takes a special person to do this every day! Thank You!

  251. Robin

    This story made me think of my brother who passed away with cancer oct 2014 at the age of 47. Thank god their was a wonder care giver who took care of him. She also was his mother in law.. I appreciate her care and love.. Miss him so much

  252. tammy jensen

    Thank you for your perspective and what you go through too. I am a daughter going through the loss of a mother. I am also the wife going through the loss of my husband. I appreciate your role in the final chapters of your patience lives and without your compassion and humility I am not sure how I could make it through. When people are going through this with there loved ones I have seen over and again they’re anger misguided towards the people directly around they’re loved ones. It’s harsh too watch and is unproductive for the patient as well. Sadly it’s human nature to Kash out in grief and I apologize to anyone I may have ever treated that way. My heart is huge with compassion to all around me and have always made huge efforts to thank everyone who has had a hand in caring for someone till the end. I am only a massage therapist but have lots many parts of me with the loss of every client and clients family. We are just human.

  253. Cricket McDonnell

    Having so many medical problems myself, I get to see many nurses. Most are like this one, but a few make you wonder why they became nurses. I hope when my time comes a nurse like this is taking care of me. I am often alone when in the hospital and I would hate to think that one of the “old battle-axes” would be there to send me off. At a time like that, everyone deserves comfort and dignity.

  254. david

    This is a very moveing storie.and I have been married to a nurse for a couple of years .
    We both share her pain when she has nursed a patiant in there last few hours .I know she puts in her best efforts to comfort and make them comfortable those in her care get her full attention.i share her emotions. When she comes home so tied and crys so much. and when some patiants assult nurses im appalled.they are truly ANGELS

  255. Kim McQuinn Clarke

    In the end, after all of the wonderful recounting of memories and stories shared as well as experience, it all comes down to this…compassion for others. I always try to remind myself, when dealing with people, that I have never walked their path. Respect and compassion go a long way.Humor and grace , as well. I have certainly enjoyed my time reading this thread tonight. It confirms my beliefs that people are basically good. In a turbulent time in our world, this I find, to be very reassuring.

  256. Teresa Pounds

    This article is the very truth in how we deal with day to day patients who are dying, we don’t enjoy telling families there is nothing more we can do except keeping them as pain free as possible, as a seasoned RN we all know there are times we cannot take away all the pain. I have cried with families, I work in LTC so I get to know a lot of patients and their families very well and it never gets easier to see their loved ones die. I hope all my co-workers have a chance to read this article, very well said!!!!

  257. Jencie Lee

    I wanT to say that nurses are all angels. My husband was 2 years in the hospital and I loved and respected all his caregivers. After 3 years of doing relatively well, he went where he wanted to go, Heaven. I told the nurse that day “had to be on your shift” and she said, “my privilege”. She unhooked all his lines and tubes with such care and the left the room for us to say our goodbyes. I hugged her as we left for her to do the job she had to do. I told her I loved her and that was the truth. Thank you to all healthcare professionals and the job that you do. God surely must bless you.

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