Written by Ebi P., RN-BSN
I was working at a midsized hospital about an hour north of Chicago. It was a level one trauma center near a highway, so they got a lot of car accidents and a ton of trauma patients.
One day a patient was admitted for injuries sustained in a crash with a car while riding her bike on the morning of her birthday. She was rushed into the hospital, taken to surgery, and admitted to the ICU where I worked. The surgeons did their best, however, she remained in poor condition after a series of operations.
Since it was her birthday she had a lot of family in town to celebrate and they all showed up to the hospital. Her husband and kids were in the room as I struggled to keep her vitals stable.
I think the husband already knew she wasn’t going to make it, so he asked if I would allow even more family into the room. Of course I allowed them to join. After about what seemed like 20 family members entered the tiny ICU room, the husband told me he wanted me to stop doing what I was doing and he let the resident at the door know he wanted to make her DNR.
At this point normally I would have left the room to give the family some privacy, but since so many of them were in the room around her bed I was stuck in one of the corners. Rather than making a commotion trying to get out I decided to just stand there as quietly as I could. The family didn’t seem to mind my presence.
Suddenly the husband started singing a church hymn. The rest of the family joined in and they sang to her as she passed from this life into whatever is next. Every free staff member on the unit stood out side the door and listened. Not a dry eye on the whole unit. It is something I will never forget.