HOW OFTEN DO YOU ENGAGE WITH OR WITNESS DEATH IN YOUR WORK? PHI 413
How often do you engage with or witness death in your work? How has this experience or the lack of it shaped your view of death? Has it gotten easier or harder for you to accept the fact of death? As you explain, include your clinical specialty.
Working in a Level 1 Trauma Center emergency department, I have cared for many patients who have died. Unfortunately, the death of patients while in the emergency department often happens multiple times a month, week, or within a day. Death, to me, is the transformation from a physical form into a spiritual one, similar to a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Whereby “the souls or spirits of the deceased exist after death and before the resurrection” (Hoehner, 2020, para. 38). Two of my patients passed during one of my shifts last week, one from a heart attack and the other from a motor vehicle accident. Before the attending physician announces the time of death, two questions are asked of the health team members working on the patient: Does anyone have any other ideas we can try? (Pharmacology and/or medical interventions), and Does anyone object to calling the death of this patient? When there is no objection voiced, I hold the patient’s hand when the time of death is called. Holding someone’s hand can be comforting. As I hold the patient’s hand in the physical world, I envision passing relatives and friends meeting the patient and extending their hands in the spiritual world, which helps me shape a more optimistic view of death.
Recent events have affected my heart, mind, and emotional stability around death. I attended my girlfriend’s memorial two weeks ago and experienced the unexpected loss of my friend and my ED director three days later. Two days before my ED director’s passing, we discussed the new procedures we planned to implement in the front-end triage process. Part of me is still in denial. I have been struggling this past week, trying to sort through all of my emotions, from the loss of both of my friends and witnessing two other patients’ deaths though I cannot help but think that this class’s timing may have been divine intervention.
Hoehner, P. J. (2020). Death, dying and grief. In Practicing dignity: An introduction to Christian values and decision making in health care. Grand Canyon University. https://lc.gcumedia.com/phi413v/practicing-dignity-an-introduction-to-christian-values-and-decision-making-in-health-care/v1.1/#/chapter/4
replied toTara Indrieri
Jan 21, 2022, 4:37 AM(edited)
Replies to Tara Indrieri
Thank you for your heartfelt post to this weeks discussion question. I am so sorry for the loss of your friends and the deaths of your patients in the ED recently. I would love to work in the ED but I knew my heart could not take the death that a nurse would encounter there so I have worked in OB/GYN & PACU my entire nursing career. Your comment about transformation from a physical form into a spiritual one that is similar to a caterpillar turning into a butterfly really moved me. I liked that a lot. It also was wonderful to read that you hold the hand of you dying patient.
I too believe that it was divine intervention for me to take this class at this period of time. My mother died in August unexpectedly and I have been struggling with having sad days as I grieve for her. This class has caused me to looked deep within myself and ask myself what my beliefs are and what they mean to me. I have come to realize that my religious beliefs really do mean more to me than I thought at the start of this class. I feel like I am going through my own little metamorphosis. I will keep you in my prayers and hope that you are able to have better days ahead.
· Tara Indrieri
replied toKimberly Martin
Jan 22, 2022, 10:50 AM
Replies to Kimberly Martin
Thank you. I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. Unexpected death is just so hard to process at times, even more during a pandemic. Our class has been a blessing for me in helping me through the emotional roller coaster that I have been and will continue to experience for some time. As healthcare workers, we all are one big team taking care of patients at different times in their life. Working in the ED was more of a continuation of patient care after working as an EMT-P in the field. The ability to care for many patients in a day and work with colleagues as a team to prolong life (not save it) is where I feel I do the most good for patients as a health care provider. The wonderful gift about our profession is that it provides us with the opportunity to change patient care venues—something I am pondering.