Unfortunately, nurses don’t cry enough. That may sound odd to say, but if nurses expressed their feelings more often, then they may not experience compassion fatigue or burnout at the astonishing rates that they do.
Despite the tough image that nurses present, there are patients that make nurses cry. It doesn’t matter what specialty you work in, nurses always seem to run into one or two types of patients that make them retreat to a private place and bawl their eyes out.
Patients suffering who are not DNR
Most nurses proclaim that they would have DNR tattooed on their chests to avoid just this situation. Too many times, nurses have seen patients suffering, and family members refuse to take them off of life support.
The patient is obviously suffering, but the family wants everything done to save their life when there is no hope. This makes a nurse cry because they don’t want patients to suffer under their care. Sometimes, a DNR is a blessing.
Patients who just found out a bad prognosis
Walking into a room when a patient has just gotten a poor prognosis is like facing a firing squad. What is there to say or do when everyone is crying and facing the prospect of possibly losing the patient in the bed?
Of course, nurses must be professionals, but these are patients that can make a nurse tear up. We are only human and learning that a death may be looming may be more than we can take, too.
Patients with unhelpful family members
Family members can be a mixed bag: they can be helpful to the patient and the nurse or they can be completely obnoxious at times. It is hard to watch a family be nearly abusive to a patient you are caring for.
Of course, you can report abuse, but you can’t help but cry for the patient who has such terrible support. You realize that the patient is alone in the world, and you would adopt them if you could to spare them the heartbreak of dealing with their awful family.
Patients who are kind and sweet on hospice
Sometimes any patient who is kind and sweet can make a nurse cry. It isn’t often that a nurse is treated so well, and kind patients can cause a feeling of joy that may provoke a tear or two.
When you meet this sort of patient on hospice, though, it can affect you even more acutely. You know that the patient is allowing themselves to die naturally, and the tears come when you realize such a beautiful person may be gone within months.
Patients who have become family that die suddenly
Nurses often know the common patients that come into their facility, the “frequent flyers,” and get to know them well. Some of them even become friends.
However, frequent flyers come into the hospital because they are very sick, and those who are sick have a tendency to pass away. When these ties are made between the patients and staff, then suddenly they are gone, it can cause great distress in the nursing staff as a whole. In some cases, these are the patients that make nurses cry the most.