And my patient just died…

And my patient just died.

After all my efforts to stabilize him since I received him from an unstable condition, he just left me. He was terminally ill though, and his doctor had earlier confirmed that he would go anytime.

I was there when he just stopped breathing. I checked his pulse and there was none. The relatives were beside and they suddenly started screaming and crying. I called a code, and started cardiac compressions. The code team arrived in a couple of minutes but the resuscitation efforts turned out to be futile. He was gone.

And so my patient under my care just died. It does not happen many times, actually the last one being a couple of years ago from my previous hospital. It is still quite a shock for me to have a patient die on me, and I think it is something that will be difficult for me to get used to, especially if you work on a unit where mortalities are less. Not like in ER or ICU. For me, death is something else, and when you are not used to it, it certainly is something else.

Nurses are encouraged to treat our patients like family members. We care for them because we want them to go out of the hospital well and soon. And so when a patient dies, it is inevitable to feel sorrow and pain. There is a certain feeling of loss and grief.

But being the patient’s nurse, I could not show my emotions at the time. I had to hide my sorrow to comfort the relatives who are hysterically crying at their loved one’s passing. I had to keep myself composed to be able to deal with the dead body in a respectful way. I had to wrap the dead body expertly, as if I have done this many times, to show the relatives around that I am managing the situation.

I had to make sure I was thinking straight. That I knew which ones to call to coordinate and inform about the patient’s death. That I knew which forms to fill up, and where to send them.

And after the body had gone to the morgue, I still had to deal with the messed-up room and the pieces of equipment that were used. Housekeeping had to be called, and used stuff had to go to CSSD box.

And then I go back to my six other alive patients, whom I had to forget for a while to concentrate on that patient who just died. Their medications were delayed and their needs were left hanging for a while. And now I had to care for them as if nobody died earlier. I had to attend to them as if nothing major happened earlier – as if things were running smoothly and everything was in control. Coz that’s what patients want to feel during their stay in the hospital.

I hate to admit it, but being a nurse requires you to be numb at times. You have to forget about your own feelings to help people and to get things done. You have to pretend that you are okay when you are not. As if you don’t have the right to be sad.

After the shift ended, I felt all the heavy emotions at once – exhaustion, sadness, grief. And this was the only time when I could show my true feelings – when nobody was around, and work has been completed.

Nurses have feelings too. We are also human beings and we get hurt also. When our patient dies, we also feel pain and sorrow. But at the work setting, nurse’s emotions do not count. We can feel it, but we cannot show it. We have to be strong and in control at all times. It may not be a written job description, but that’s what our job entails, and that is what is expected of us to be able to help sick patients and worried relatives effectively.

Nursing is such a noble job. Glad to be in.


16 Responses to “And my patient just died…”

  1. February 16, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Mahirap nga ang trabaho nyo. Na shock ako sa post mo. Be strong, your other patients need you. 🙂
    Sana makasali ka sa aking munting pakulo.


    Are you looking for link exchange partners? If yes then I’m inviting you to join BC Blogger’s Secret where bloggers looking for link exchange partners come together for fast and easy exchange.
    I’ll be waiting for you. ^^



  2. 3 Sophia
    February 27, 2010 at 12:44 am


    i just read your blog…
    how sad that even after all the efforts we put in just to stabilize our patients condition, at one point their body will just have to give in…
    i would like to ask you permission, if i can share this blog of yours in my facebook account.. hoping it will give inspiration to my fellow nursing students…
    more power to you and God bless always…


    • 4 digitalcatharsis
      February 27, 2010 at 1:07 am

      Hi Sophia, thanks for dropping by. By all means, share this site to your fellow nursing students. Check out my old nursing posts too. I hope all of you learn something from my experiences.


  3. 5 Sophia
    February 27, 2010 at 3:24 am

    ill be dropping by more often to check out your blogs….


  4. March 6, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Your posts about a life of a nurse and behind the scenes sa hospital are all infortmative. I will let my daughter Ishi read you blog…she is contemplating to enroll in a nursing course this coming school year….BTW. thanks for visiting my site


  5. 7 digitalcatharsis
    March 17, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Hi Sophia, Thanks!

    Hi Cielo, I hope your daughter Ishi learns something from my nursing posts. Thanks for dropping by.


  6. April 10, 2010 at 2:41 am

    Sad to hear about the family’s loss and as you have posted your loss. In my line of work, I am expected to and have brought a number of ailing employees to hospitals, and the last one I brought was just a few weeks ago. He is having extreme chest pains and is having a hard time breathing. Can’t help but panic when you see a young man moaning because of chest pain, unable to speak and stand, it’s like he is having a heart attack. When we got to the ER of a famous hospital here in Manila, even though our patient is already screaming due to pain, I noticed a blank expression on the doctors and nurses. The employee recovered, but back then I was thinking maybe the nurses were used to it. But having read your post I now understand that nurses can’t get used to people getting sick or being in pain – they just try to be professional and not add panic to the situation. It really is a very noble and commendable work. Keep up the good work. God bless.



  7. 9 digitalcatharsis
    April 10, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Hi SANDER, thanks for understanding our profession and I hope more people are like you who are sensitive to their nurses’ feelings. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  8. 10 digitalcatharsis
    September 24, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    This post is publushed today at Filipino Nurses Blog site on this link:


  9. June 23, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I feel how you feel my friend. As I was reading your post, I realized how noble and hard your job is.


  10. June 24, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I think it’s the hardest part of being a nurse. We were taught to be objective rather than show our feelings because we are the ones people need to lean on in these times. But we do have our own feelings towards death, though we have to be strong so that the people and the relatives can feel secure.


  11. 13 kat
    June 27, 2011 at 8:26 am

    kakalungkot din pala no pag nawala pasyente mo…


  12. 14 wurster
    November 3, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.


  13. 15 K
    December 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I’m doing that just now, sat down reflecting on my own having just got home from a long, long night shift. My patient died about 5 hours ago. He too was terminal and he was receiving end of life care. The doctors, him and his family all knew that he was unlikely to survive the night, and all we could do was make him comfortable which we did. But at three am he waved me into his room and I could see the fear and the fight in his eyes, he knew it was now and he didn’t want it. He stared right into my eyes and held my hand as I did everything I could for him. I’ve never had such an intense look from anyone and it brought tears to my eyes. I don’t think I’ll forget it.

    Then as you say, it’s time for everything after death and time to care for all the other patients, all wanting care and reassurance for their own needs, brushing it all aside until home time. Sitting here, I found you blog cathartic. Thank you.


    • January 2, 2013 at 11:12 am

      That was such an experience, Kate. As nurses, we have to go through these times when our emotions need to be flexible so that our other patients needing our care will not be affected. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are a great nurse.


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