Dealing with death

 Sarah Murphy 26 Jul 2018

As a student nurse you’ll encounter many things for the first-time. Sarah Murphy, RCN Counsellor, offers her advice on coping with the death of a patient.

  • Utilise your mentor in your clinical placement to discuss the death of a patient, reflect on your role and share your feelings. 
  • Acknowledge your feelings, understand that death brings up a whole host of emotions. It is natural to feel sadness that someone you have cared for has passed away, to feel reminded of our own personal bereavements and to sometimes wonder if anything else might have been done to save someone.  
  • Express your feelings, talk to friends and loved ones, especially those in the nursing family who will have had similar experiences. Peer support is invaluable and can help you feel less alone.
  • Be self-compassionate. It is vital to be able to be kind to yourself; acknowledge your humanity and fragility.
  • Practice self-care, it is important to take time out to focus on yourself. Take part in the things that you enjoy and find relaxing. Check out the RCN’s guide to a healthy you.
  • Seek professional support if you feel overwhelmed with what you have experienced. You can access counselling through your University Welfare Service or by contacting the RCN Counselling Service.

Silhouette of a woman

Sarah Murphy

Counsellor and Service Coordinator

Page last updated - 27/05/2020