Transition to death; Role of a Nurse

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Caring for a dying patient can be a challenging and emotional experience. Still, it is also an opportunity to provide comfort and support during their final moments.

Death is inevitable; it’s not a choice. 

Everyone will die as long as the title ‘human’ is attached to life. 

Human beings have been bestowed with the precious and invaluable gift of life, and living well is an intense desire for anyone. Yet, no matter how long or well one lives, a call of death is waiting. 

Each day, the nurse who tends to the dying is reminded of the inevitable fate that awaits everyone – death. It is a journey that must be embarked upon and a price that must be paid.

As the saying goes, “We will all die someday”.

Caring for a dying patient can be a challenging and emotional experience. Still, it is also an opportunity to provide comfort and support during their final moments. 

Here are some important considerations for caring for a dying patient:


Open and honest communication is crucial. Discuss the patient’s condition, prognosis, and treatment options with them and their family members, ensuring they clearly understand what to expect. Please encourage them to express their fears, concerns, and wishes.

Emotional Support 

Be empathetic, compassionate, and attentive to the emotional needs of the patient and their loved ones. Offer a listening ear and provide reassurance. Understand that everyone may react differently to the situation; emotions can range from sadness and anger to acceptance.

Pain and Symptom Management

Ensure the patient is as comfortable as possible by effectively managing their pain and other distressing symptoms such as nausea, dyspnea/apnea, or anxiety. 

Collaborate with the team and family members to develop an appropriate plan, which may involve medication, relaxation techniques, or complementary therapies.

Respect For Autonomy And Dignity

Encourage them to make decisions about their care whenever possible, respecting their autonomy and honouring their wishes. Treat the patient with dignity, maintaining their privacy and personal preferences.

Family Involvement

Recognize the importance of family and loved ones in the patient’s care. 

Keep them informed, involve them in decision-making, and provide emotional support. Offer them opportunities to spend quality time with the patient and say goodbye.

Spiritual and Cultural Considerations

Acknowledge and respect the patient’s spiritual and cultural beliefs, rituals, and practices. If requested, offer support from a spiritual or religious perspective, or provide access to appropriate resources while following hospital policies.


Caring for a dying patient can take a toll on emotional well-being. It is essential to take care of yourself by seeking support from colleagues, friends, or a counsellor. Take breaks, practice self-care activities, and allow yourself to grieve when needed.

Bereavement Support

Offer support to the patient’s loved ones. Provide information about bereavement services, support groups, or counselling options available to them.

It is important to note that every patient is unique, and their needs may vary. 

Adopting an approach based on their preferences and circumstances should be considered. 

Please consult with the interdisciplinary healthcare team for guidance and collaborate to provide the best possible care for the dying patient.

Everyone is expected to die, though the time appointed differs and is unknown. Hence, it is expected that all dying patients should be treated as we would want to be treated.

Are you a passionate nursing student or young nurse looking to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare industry?

Do you want to uncover your unique leadership style and strengths or you aspire to lead a team, initiate innovative projects, or influence healthcare policies?

National Association of Nigerian Student Nurses and Midwives(NANSNM), Southwest Zone.
In Collaboration with Focusing on Young Nurses Initiative (FYNI) presents a virtual Leadership Symposium themed; Investing in Leadership Excellence: Empowering Tomorrow’s Nursing Leaders.

This webinar is aimed at unlocking the leadership potential of student nurses and providing enlightenment for those interested in impacting the healthcare system through policies and advocacy.

Lectures, Question and Answer sessions, Certificate of participation and more.

Date: Friday, 18th to Saturday 19th of August, 2023.
Time: 7pm (Friday) and 12pm (Saturday).

Registration is compulsory for interested participants. Register here.

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