Bravo to Joy Ufema for recognizing that nurses are human and have to deal with a loved one's death just like the rest of the world does ("Peer Support: How to Comfort a Co-worker," Insights on Death and Dying, August 2004). Just 7 months after losing her own daughter to cancer, a nurse was comforting her oncology patients by letting them know they weren't alone and sharing their pain. One of her co-workers thought her behavior was inappropriate and wondered if this nurse should transfer out of the oncology unit for a while. Joy found nothing inappropriate about the nurse's behavior and encouraged the letter writer and other co-workers to lend their compassion and understanding.
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We tell our patients that the grieving process can take a lifetime and that they may cry with little provocation even years after the death. Doesn't that apply to nurses as well?