How to Navigate Death and the Dying Process

by | Feb 26, 2016 | 2 comments

Death is not a foreign concept in nursing. We help elderly patients transition, even when no family is present at the bedside. We provide a shoulder to cry on when a husband loses his lifelong spouse to cancer. We are there in grounded silence as a parent questions the ‘why’ behind the tragic accidental death of a child.

Yet, even though nurses have interactions with death and dying in the workplace, does it get any easier with time? Are there things that still shake us to the core that we must process through with our teammates and colleagues?

Sure, I have had grandparents pass one- but I was too young to really understand the feelings my parents were going through. And fortunately, at this time in my life, I haven’t had much experience with death and dying. Until my uncle took his life a little over five years ago. That was a shock. That left us angry, feeling guilty, extremely sad, and even relieved.

So many emotions can run through us all at one time. As a nurse, we not only have to experience the flood of emotion, but then we have to get back onto work to see our next patient in the other room. How do we simply move about our day, keeping that brave face of nursing? How does a nurse navigate the end of life?

Well, we have help! I was able to interview this nurse consultant for The Art of Nursing, 2016 Nurse’s Week conference. We talked about death and dying and how the nurse can engage in a conscious role through the process with their patient.

Laurel Lewis joins The Art of Nursing program this Nurse's Week #artofnursingOriginally from Mississippi, Laurel Lewis received a BSN in 1994 and an MA in spiritual psychology in 2008. She was married and widowed all by the age of 27, which radically shifted both her perspective on life, death, and her path.  Since then she has been on a spiritual quest. Along the way she is being of deep service to others whether through her RN training, life coaching, or creating workshops and wellness retreats around the world. She is the visionary that founded The Death and Dying Party, which she hosts monthly in LA, is an RN consultant, and has worked with ShowTime on an award-winning documentary called “Time of Death”.

Laurel will be teaching us:

  • How to distinguish healthy versus unhealthy strategies for coping with death and dying situations;
  • About the cost versus benefit of seeking end of life care;
  • The importance of a living will; and
  • Where resources available to support end of life process.

This conversation is going to be thought-provoking, touching and profound! So much useful information for nurses to know about in their particular place of practice and novel information for nurses to stay cutting-edge. I hope you’ll join us. There are two ways for you to participate:

  1. Nursing organizations can purchase the program as a Nurse’s Week gift for all nursing staff. To find out more and schedule a time to talk with me about this wonderful event, click here.
  2. Individual nurses can register to join us. Information for individual registration is also available here.

What did we miss? I’d love to hear about your experiences with death and the dying process in nursing in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN; Founder of Nursing from WithinAbout the Author: As a keynote speaker, bestselling author and virtual conference host, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. During the National Nurse’s Week online conference, ‘The Art of Nursing‘, Elizabeth supports nurses in achieving professional goals of continued learning and development. Click here to find out more about how The Art of Nursing appreciates and celebrates our profession in a meaningful way.


  1. maureenpowers

    This is one of my areas of interest.Great way to share info

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks, Maureen!


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