It is a tragedy to lose someone to death.
The first experiences of death in clinical practice have a long-lasting impact (Terry & Carroll, 2008). On one of my clinical rotations I saw a stroke patient for three weeks. He showed great potential and was waiting for a place at the Western Cape Rehabilitation Center. He was a challenging patient because he presented with pusher’s syndrome and it was the first time I treated a patient with this condition. I enjoyed my sessions with him and built a good relationship with him. He was very motivated to walk again and would always talk about how he must get better to provide for his family. I admired his strength and determination, it made me want to do everything I can to help him.
After the weekend I went back to the ward and was looking forward to our session. I walked into his room and he was not in bed and I assumed they moved him to another room. When asking the nurse where he was she told that me he suddenly passed away. I was in shock and did not understand why this could have happened. He was doing so well and there was no indication of any other health problems. I was not prepared for this news and the sudden emotion overwhelmed me. I have never thought that I will experience so many emotions when losing someone who is not even close to me.
A sudden death produces a feeling of shock. It is common for individuals to personalise a tragedy happening in another family (Reynolds, 2006). After hearing the news I kept thinking about his family and how his main goal was to provide for them.
This was the first time I experienced the death of a patient and was shocked how suddenly it can happen. I don’t think the feeling of losing a patient will ever get better. It is a sign of being human.
Reynolds, F. (2006). How doctors cope with death. Archives Of Disease In Childhood, 91(9), 727-727. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/adc.2005.092015
Terry, L. & Carroll, J. (2008). Dealing with death: first encounters for first-year nursing students. British Journal of Nursing, 17(12), 760-765. http://dx.doi.org/10.12968/bjon.2008.17.12.30298