Think of everyone's life as an incredible story. As wonderful as any book is, there is always a last chapter. As nurses, our primary role is to ensure that the last chapter is:
- Defined by the patient rather than imposed by the institution or family members
- Consistent with how they lived their lives (i.e., the theme of their story)
Here are some questions a nurse can ask to help with a difficult time:
- What is most important to you right now?
- What does comfort mean to you?
- Is there anything you are concerned or worried about?
- Can I answer any questions for you?
And here are a few tips for nurses:
- Be willing to "go there." Be present at this time in the patient's journey.
- Let your patient be your teacher. You don't have to have all the answers.
- Listen. Listen. Listen. Be comfortable with silence.
-Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN