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Caregivers Who Have Lost Someone
Dealing with Death- Nurse's Aide
Hey all, I'm going to write a little bit about my situation below but if you don't really care and just want to help my answer my question here it is;
As a professional Nursing Aide, working in a Long Term/ Memory Care/ Assisted Living Facility, how do you deal with death?
Hello to whoever actually reads this little summary. I am 19 years old, I am a Certified Nurses Aide and lately I have been struggling. I have been affected by Alzheimer's and Dementia on not only a personal work level but as well as a very personal story. My grandmother who I am close with has stage 6 unspecified Alzheimer's. I am use to my residents not remembering who I am but someone as important in my life as my grandmother, well it leaves me speechless and heart broken. After 2 years of working in an Assisted living facility I have decided to reach out on this website for insite in dealing with the death that my everyday life is filled with. I love each of my residents, they have become my family, just as I have become an extension of their own.How do you watch a painful death, how do you continue to give quality care to residents when your heart is hurting and you know that no matter how hard you try to give them a good life, they will pass. This impending doom is making my job harder. I am often unable to attend funnerals and celebrations of life as my management frowns upon it. Any support or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to respond.
Dear Nurses Aide
I think the thing is that at some time each and everyone is going to die. It is not so important when you are young as you don't usually think that your time is near. The older you get you start looking at how much time you think you have and one day realize that you have far less time ahead of you than what you have behind you. About that time you make your peace with death and hope when your time comes you don't have to face Alzheimer's. To me it is the worst disease I have ever come in contact with.
You have to bring yourself to a place where you realize that this is the time God is calling your residents and your grandmother. You will miss them and feel bad but remember by the time we get up here we have all sorts of aches and pains that aren't going away. Some of us welcome a peaceful death
I feel that the sense of closure you might receive from attending funerals and/or memorials for residents about whom you cared deeply might help you a lot, and that boundary possibly could be tested by you unless it is an outright policy and you care more about your employment.
Regarding the continuing care, I believe that you must develop a bit of a thick skin after a number of years of tending to your residents and that you may do that. However, I say that knowing full well that the people who tended to my dad at his end, and who shed tears for him because of the compassion they felt for him, were worth more than gold to me as a daughter, to know that he was loved, truly loved.
Having just lost my mom this Mother's day, I can sense, perhaps, a portion of the grief you go through. I certainly don't think my words contain much wisdom, but they come from my own experiences with my dad's passing in 2008, and now my mom's. I don't know if there is a way to adequately shield yourself from the pain that comes from seeing someone die whom you cared for, unless you build so many walls that you become insensitive and cold hearted. For myself, I would rather be hurt than not be open to loving the people I come in contact with.
There is so much of me that I attribute to my parents, and being open and caring is absolutely one of those parts. When I get hurt, ( and I do , ) I know that this is just the price I have to pay. I am no professional in this area, but since I care for my wife, Barbara, who is in early stage dementia, I am learning. To reverse the old saying about hurt and love , I say this : You can only be hurt when you love.
So treasure your grandmother, and know that your love will care for her in the best ways. Treasure the others you care for, and know that a part of you has touched each one of them.
Being a light on a hill is far superior to living in a walled prison of your own making.
Peace be yours.
My H loved music, especially opera. I kept music on all the time. I danced with him. We sang. I had friends over whose company he always enjoyed. I took him outside for walks in the sunshine and our children and grandkids came over often to spend time with him. We tried in every way we could to make his time fun and comforting. When his care became really tough for me and I decided to place him in a nursing home I found a beautiful facility where the staff was very caring and where there were lots of activities - not a place where they stuck the residents in front of a TV all day. I visited him all the time and brought him home two nights a week.
The point I am trying to make is to not focus on the fact that these residents and your grandmother are dying but instead think of what would make their final years worth living. When you see them smile and laugh, know that you are giving them gifts that bring them so much pleasure and these memories that you are creating with them will stay with you forever. I know it is hard, especially since you are so young, but you are a gift to each and everyone whose life you touch. Take comfort in knowing how special you are.
Death is a part of life. This is extremely hard to understand at any point; possibly even more challenging at 19, when the world lies ahead of you with endless possibility.
I once worked with infants, young children and catastrophically ill kids. I frequently had to deliver life changing, devestating news to these families. Early on, it broke me apart, and I would cry. Over time and experience, I realized there were far worse things than the news I was delivering, and, in some ways, I could take comfort in knowing these families were receiving the very BEST of information, diagnostics and support through me and my dept. It helped.
I think if you can learn about hospice and palliative care through some local resources or reading, it could help guide you. The book "Final Gifts" was very helpful to me. If you realize that your patients are lucky to have your compassionate hand care for them, you may feel less helpless.
You will get "funeraled out" if you go to the life celebration of every patient you care for that dies. A grounded family will completely understand that staff cannot tend. Understandably, a facility cannot run their patient care if caregiving staff attend every funeral at several deaths per week. Hospice patients sometimes are remembered through their hospice agencies with a twice year memorial service in the evenings, if you feel the need perhaps you could attend that.
Our CNA's provided priceless support to my Dad and I in the days prior to his death; stay after their shifts to visit him on the hospice wing; calling me that they had the feeling I should come now, because he "looked different", and just taking the time to update me and say hello for those final visits.
You must separate out yourself somewhat for a quick emotional recovery as you get more experience, or you won't stay well yourself, in which case later you may wish to change populations you work with or even fields.
Lastly, if you ever walk a loved one or patient completely through death, this can take some of the grimness and fear out of your emotions. There is a sense of correctness, sometimes, as a LO passes away. There can be not doubt it is their time. No one lives forever.