A Comfortable Place to Say Goodbye

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Donald D. Kautz, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Bill had suffered severe trauma, the type of injury even a 46-year-old healthy man does not survive. A helicopter transferred Bill to tertiary trauma facility miles from his home. Nurses and physicians worked for hours to stabilize him. Throughout the day, family members arrived, some in tears, some angry, all confused and distraught over Bill's tragic accident. The afternoon of Bill's arrival, the physician had a meeting with the family. The physician was honest, direct, and compassionate with the family. Bill would not likely survive this trauma; however, he discussed the supportive process of comfort care. The family wrestled with their emotions and with the reality of Bill's eminent death for several hours. The family finally agreed to stop the futile treatments and allow Bill to experience a peaceful death. The comfort care protocol for Bill involved continuing mechanical ventilation, continuous intravenous sedation, and pain medications. Family members took turns in their vigil at Bill's bedside, each coping in his/her own way and toward his/her own acceptance of Bill's death, some in tears, some still angry at the unfairness of life. Bill was still alive the next morning, and the nurse from the day before resumed his care. The family's emotional journey culminated that morning with Bill's death, with loved ones surrounding his bedside, holding hands, and singing hymns as Bill's heart rate slowed and eventually stopped. There were tears in everyone's eyes, but there was also relief on their faces. Death had finally come, and Bill had never exhibited any signs of pain or suffering. No death is easy, but we all hope to die peacefully, with our loved ones surrounding us, comforted by each other's presence, and the knowledge that the right decision has been made.

Additional Information

Dimensions in Critical Care Nursing
Language: English
Date: 2009
Nursing, Death

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