October 20, 2014

I Sometimes Don't Sleep Well at Night

The other day, myself and another nurse were sitting thinking about our patient who was dying. We knew it, but we didn't want to say it. We went home and I knew before I was falling asleep that I would miss something. That very night I woke up in sweats having a terrible dream that my sister died. My patient was the one that died that night.

This patient didn't have family. I truly believe she is in a better place. Sometimes it helps me when they don't have big families. What I mean by that, is that nurses don’t enjoy being the “bad guy.” I don’t enjoy having to break the bad news that their loved one has just passed on. 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.

It is physically and emotionally draining being a nurse. Often times I go to work, drive home, eat, shower, and then go directly to sleep. No other time to unwind.

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 our patients very well. We know 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?” We turn them, tuck them in with soft pillows, rub their feet with lotion, reassure them, caress their forehead, and tell them it’s going to be okay.

And we tell them goodbye.

I may not cry, I may be laughing with another patient five minutes later, but it is how I cope. I promise, I really do care for your loved ones. But I have to cope too. I 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.

I missed saying goodbye to my patient the other day, because I was off-shift when she left. It hurts to say goodbye but it sometimes is worse to have not said goodbye.

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

#3  When you’re a nurse you know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours. – Author Unknown


  1. Very true post! It is true when you say that we may leave our charting at work, but we bring them home. My husband asks me some nights why I seem to be "worried" and then proceeds to ask me, "Are you still thinking about one of your patients?". Yes! Yes I am! Truly a heartfelt post.

  2. I can't say I know the feeling, but I have been cared by nurses, and family members too!

  3. Being a nurse is definitely a difficult job. I have many friends who are nurses and family members who are paramedics. I commend you for caring so much about the patients. :)

  4. Nursing is definitely a job that puts an extra-high strain on the emotions. I know Angel has several of those patients he'll truly never forget!

  5. Aw love I'm sorry to hear that your patient passed. You're so good at what you do and so caring. I love you!

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