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5 Harsh Life Truths Nurses Know Too Well

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By Iris Dawn Tabangcora, RN

The lives of nurses are in proximity to the most intense life events and milestones of every human being they encounter. Each day is flooded with drops of joy and drizzles of anguish. You name an emotion and nurses will tell you what exactly it looks like in real life.

Years of working with people from all walks of life make nurses realize the complexity of human existence and the experiences that make or break them. Nurses have learned to acknowledge the harsh, to accept the difficult, and to always believe in the turn of tides despite cruel currents. These intimate set of realities have influenced nurses to strive for mature understanding of this world to better care for people. To put it in simpler words, nurses have seen and experienced so much of this life that they adapt easily, understand thoroughly, and feel deeply.

Here are five hard life truths that take a while to understand but nurses know too well:

1. Death should not be feared.

Much time has been spent debating over what really happens in the afterlife. As children, books have various way of depicting death. We have read about seas of fire, a swallowing void, and people turning so white they are almost transparent. However, as we reach the age of seven, we begin to have a realistic concept of death: it is final and irreversible.

The work of a nurse is very close to the concept of dying.

The work of a nurse is very close to the concept of dying. We deal with it on a regular basis. We even find ourselves not surprised upon hearing news of death. While the gift of life is celebrated, nurses know too well that death is inevitable and is around the corner. We know too well that death comes unannounced most of the time and does not spare the young ones. Nothing can stop death. It takes its course as nature dictates. It takes a life when it is time.

When you look right down to it, fearing death takes one nowhere. This is the reason why nurses believe that death should be talked about more openly. It is a huge responsibility for nurses to dig into people’s concept of death so they can understand them better and identify barriers to acceptance. Nurses know too well that death should not be feared because it only ends physical connection but not relationships and bonds.

2. Science can’t explain everything. 

All nurses have experienced not knowing what to answer on certain questions asked by patients not because they have forgotten about it, but because there is simply no answer. All nurses have that one phenomenon in mind they have witnessed in which a logical explanation can’t provide enlightenment. Nurses have heard of dead patients coming back to life, of manifestations that laboratory tests could not explain, of recoveries that were once unthinkable. In the absence of scientific explanation, they can only be described as miracles.

Spirituality is a strong component of nurses’ core. We believe in the higher power that governs all humans. Not all believe in the same concept but at certain trying times, the only weapon that’s left is the will and power to believe. For numerous times, it has saved the day.

3. You can’t save everyone.

When nurses remember the first time they worked as a registered nurse, they remember being in a big ball of fire to save the world. They felt their hands were big enough to catch all the problems their patients have. They believe everything is possible. They rejoice in making a difference to people’s lives. They are true humanitarians.

…there is more to life that can’t be controlled.

However, as time passes by, nurses realize that there is more to life that can’t be controlled. Nurses find themselves imposing what they think is best for patients. Nurses forgot that to promote and encourage is the only way in.  Nurses feel thinly stretched every time they lose control over their patients. Nurses feel unsatisfied and frustrated every time they fail to mend what is broken.

Nurses learn this life truth the hard way and grow to accept that no matter what they do, some families will still choose to not communicate, that addiction will always reach its peak, and depression can return.

4. Lack of empathy breaks the world.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is the ability to be sensitive to both positive and negative feelings of other people. While we are not expected to completely understand them, it is important that we show willingness and effort in listening and understanding their challenges.

Every human has their own set of values and experiences that make them so nurses know too well that judgments do not have a room within the walls of their care. Nurses know too well that lack of sensitivity towards how others think and feel is one source of conflicts in relationships. This is the reason why assessment of feelings, concepts, and meanings is part of the nursing process.

Our ability to be empathic stems from what we have witnessed as children. If we grow up in a household that expresses feelings openly and generously, then most probably we grow up as empathic. This skill is helpful in relationships and the good news is, it can be learned.

5. Nursing as a profession makes one more human.

Nursing is founded on human values of compassion, dignity, responsibility, and prevention of suffering. Every day in the lives of nurses, we strive to live up to these core values and our actions reflect these values we deem important for humanity.

Nursing exposes people to the soft intricacies of life.

Nurses arrange pillows countless times just so patients feel comfortable. Nurses patiently listen to what patients have to say. Nurses help patients feed themselves. Nurses bathe patients. All of these things nurses do because these are what nurses pledged for. Nursing exposes people to the soft intricacies of life. Nursing evokes feelings of sincerity to people. Nursing tolerates and understands. This is what makes nursing beautiful. This is what makes nurses more human.

What are other hard life truths that you have learned through practicing the profession? Share them now for other nurses to read!

Iris Dawn is a nurse writer in her 20s who is on the constant lookout for latest stories about Science. Her interests include Research and Medical-Surgical Nursing. She is currently furthering her studies and is seriously considering being a student as her profession. Life is spoiling her with spaghetti, acoustic playlists, libraries, and the beach.

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