How to cope with losing a patient.

How to cope with losing a patient.

As a nurse you are often working with people who are injured and sick. Unfortunately, that means that sometimes you may lose a patient. Whether they’ve been your patient for two days or two months, losing them is never easy. You may find yourself grieving and not sure how to cope. It can feel overwhelming to have new patients when you are still grieving the loss of those before them. At EmPower we are inspired by the strength and compassion that nurses show. We asked a few nurses what they do to help them cope when losing a patient. Here is what they had to say:

-It’s okay to feel. When a patient dies you will most likely be overflowing with emotions. You may feel sad, angry, frustrated, and lost. Whatever it is you are feeling, embrace it. Don’t try to hide your emotions. In the moment you are first and foremost a nurse, you are there to serve and help others. It can be easy to always put on a tough face. You want to be there for there for the family, your coworkers, and finish out your shift. But once you clock off it is healthy to express whatever it is you are feeling. Remember that you are human and dealing with death is never easy. Breath deep and know that you are not alone in your grief.

-Talk to someone. If you are having a difficult time coping talk to someone about your feelings. Whether that be a supervisor, grief counselor, friend, family member, or a coworker. Sometimes simply being able to put your emotions into words can be therapeutic. Coworkers will be able to relate to losing a patient and can offer you advice on how they cope. Family and friends will be there to listen and comfort you in your time of need. Remember that even if someone isn’t a nurse they may still be able to offer advice on how to process your emotions.

-Practice self-care. Take some time for yourself and do whatever it is that sets you at peace; yoga, meditation, relaxing night in, getting outside etc. Take time to heal in whatever way feels right for you. If that means taking a bubble bath then make time for that. If working out is your emotional release lace up your shoes and get going! Do what feels right for you and remember that you are doing your best when it comes to serving your patients.

-Remember that you are doing your best. When you lose a patient, you may feel guilty; like there was something you could have done. But sometimes no matter how many doctors and nurses a patient may have, it is simply their time to leave this earth. Each day you go to work you are dedicating your time and energy to help those in need. For every patient that is lost, there are countless who you are helping heal and recover.

The work that nurses do can often go unacknowledged. But here at EmPower we know just how hard your job is and we are so grateful for the work that you do. Losing a patient is never easy. You can still be grieving the loss of a patient while also serving countless others. Just a reminder to take time to heal, show yourself some love, and know that you help improve the lives of so many people around this world.