According to Department of Statistic of Singapore, there are 3 in 3000 population pass on yearly (Singapore Statistic,2019). Death is an unavoidable experience in the life, it is not openly discussing in this modern society. However, there is the needs to learn to perceive death as a natural cycle in life. Healthcare professional has higher chances facing life and death in their working environment. They face dying patient and interpreting the process base on their own belief, culture, religion background.
Nurses has a closer patient relationship in healthcare setting, death would be face at some point of time in their professional life. Their attitude towards and fear of death would determine quality of care render for terminally ill and dying patient. However, many healthcare professional feeling unprepared to deliver end of life or communicate with families about the topic of death and dying.
Experience of Death
The meaning of death defines differently base on individual culture, religion, believe and education or experienced. In general death define as permanent cessation of vital function but it could be other meaning in nursing who nurse a patient (merriam-wester,2020).
Dealing with death or nearly death patient is a challenge to a person who is new to nursing. Death is not just simple as I think as an unresponsive body, but it conceals a lot of knowledge to be deal to a person. My experience toward death as a student follow by working in paediatric and oncology broader my mind and perspective on death, same time change my view on life.
Beginning on my career, death toward as a novice are so much different from an experiences nurse. The first encounter of death that filled with different emotions of fear and anxiety. Moment before to see a dead body, thought and image appear in my mind. The knowledge that a person lying in the adjacent room is really an unpleasant feeling. However, enable to complete my duty in ‘last office’ through cleaning body prior sending to mortuary, I’m take it as part of my job without consider patient as whole.
The whole process involved in caring for a dying patient, building a relationship with patient and ended witnessing the patient dying as a corpse lying in the morgue is frightening and evoke a strong emotional. According to Cooper and Barnett (2005), such process brought many feelings of sadness, vulnerability and helpless in the care of dying patient which mirror myself too. The negative emotion which making me so ineffective to dealing with death either to patient or their family members. A lot of the time, I’m avoid facing the dying patient’s family even they in agony of the lost.
In experience as paediatric, I’m embrace a lot of hope to see all my ‘little angel’ to recover from their illness. I’m always felt small kids is so powerful to bring joy and portrait strong determination to stay alive. However, the idea of mine is so much more wrong.
My first cancer patient, he was a little boy. He always makes me feel world is so harmless and innocent. He always so positive though don’t know why he keep admitting to hospital. Every time of admission he will look for me, his mother told me, he likes me, but I knew he was fear and need to look for a familiar facing to make him comfort.
He is not doing well, he underwent operation. However, being a nurse and his buddy, I bought a little toys and role play to let him understand the operation. The toy is our common language and he know the toys is our guardian angel which will protect him and give him courage
Unfortunate, he passes on and yet I never attend his wake to has a proper ‘goodbye ‘. I was too young and inexperienced. I could to better in his palliative treatment in supporting his mother or who love him too.