Early on in my nursing career while working in long term care, I often witnessed death. I recall the first time I had to check vitals to determine if my patient was or was not absent of vitals. This was a very difficult determination; at the time I recall thinking that I could still feel a pulse, even though my instruments were telling me otherwise. Working as a DON at that time we had the authority to pronounce patients dead, this did not seem like it would be difficult when asked of me, but it was when the situation actually took place. For family members that were involved, watching them and engaging in the care of their loved ones during this last phase of life was hard to experience, the more often being involved in these situations, the easier it became to engage with the family members and console them. According to Grand Canyon University (2020), the best way to help comfort family members and loved ones it to be honest and sympathetic, truthful, and compassionate. For example, suggesting to a patient that there is still hope that their loved one currently on hospice care might make a full recovery and not die, may be suggesting false hope and should be avoided, instead honesty and compassion as well as supportive listening would be most appropriate during these times. Currently, working as a depression case manager in mental health, due to my experience in the past, it has become easier to accept the death of my patients. This acceptance is due to knowing that death is a part of life, life’s natural process. The challenge at times I notice is when there are patients that do not have close family members or loved ones and they die alone, this is really hard to see, and this does not get easier; there is not much that is more sad to see, than someone dying alone with the absence of loved ones and/or family members. How often do you engage with or witness death in your work? How has this experience or the lack of it shaped your view of death? Has it gotten easier or harder for you to accept the fact of death? As you explain, include your clinical specialty. Using 200-300 words APA format with at least two references. Sources must be published within the last 5 years.

Nursing, as a profession, often involves dealing with the reality of death and the emotions that surround it. This is especially true for nurses working in specialties such as palliative care, oncology, intensive care, and geriatrics. The frequency of engagement with death can vary depending on the specific specialty and the setting in which a nurse works.

In my clinical specialty as a depression case manager in mental health, the frequency of witnessing death is relatively low compared to other specialties. However, it does occur occasionally, particularly in cases where patients struggle with severe depression and have a higher risk of suicide. These instances are emotionally challenging and can have a profound impact on one’s view of death.

Experiencing death in my work has shaped my view of death in several ways. Initially, when I was a novice nurse, witnessing death was accompanied by feelings of uneasiness and difficulty accepting the reality of mortality. However, as I gained more experience and encountered death more frequently, it became easier to accept the fact that death is an inevitable part of life.

One significant aspect that influenced my perspective on death was understanding the natural process of life and death. As I learned more about the human body, its vulnerabilities, and the progression of illnesses, it became clear that death is a natural outcome in certain situations. Accepting this reality enabled me to approach the death of my patients with more objectivity and professionalism.

Furthermore, my interactions with patients’ families and loved ones during the end-of-life phase played a crucial role in shaping my perception of death. Being present for grieving family members, providing emotional support, and witnessing their pain and acceptance granted me insight into the complex emotions surrounding death. This experience fostered empathy and a deeper understanding of the impact death has on those left behind.

As mentioned earlier, the absence of close family members or loved ones during a patient’s death is particularly challenging. Witnessing patients die alone evokes strong feelings of sadness and highlights the importance of companionship and support during the end-of-life journey. It serves as a reminder of the importance of fostering connections and providing emotional support to patients, especially those without a strong social support network.

Overall, while my clinical specialty may not involve frequent exposure to death, the experiences I have had have shaped my view of death and fostered a greater acceptance of its inevitability. The challenges of witnessing death, coupled with the understanding of its natural occurrence, have allowed me to approach this aspect of nursing with compassion, empathy, and a focus on providing holistic care to patients and their families.


Grand Canyon University. (2020). NRS-434VN Lecture and Workbook. PHI.