FACING DEATH: What Doctors Don’t Talk About

FACING DEATH: What Doctors Don’t Talk About


Hey guys, I’m Siobhan a first-year medical resident today is gonna be a slightly different type of video my goal It’s just push back the curtains and let you see a different side of what it means to be a doctor the last five weeks I’ve been on an ICU rotation and I’ve seen so much death And I’ve seen so many families grieving and I’ve had a lot of you asked. How do you deal with that? And the truth is I’ve had some tough days and I’ve had some tough moments And so this is the video where I’m gonna talk to you about that really really openly So a few weeks ago I got back from a really tough call shift and I went and I slept for eight hours straight and by the time I woke up I still was just kind of feeling out of sorts and I felt like the best way for me to deal with that was to just turn on the camera and just bent and It was really spontaneous. So I’m actually in my pajamas. I had just woken up But take a look and I want you to know what I was really feeling in that moment So last night I went to one of the most horrific codes that I’ve ever seen There was blood all over the floor This patient. I honestly I didn’t think they were even going to make it to the ICU. They did make it there We did everything we could resuscitated. We spent hours working to get this patient back, but they still passed away I know that’s part of the job. I know that’s what happens But that wasn’t the only thing there was another patient who needed to get intubated in the middle of the night, which we did Had to get central lines in Another person who wasn’t making any urine anymore Which meant that we had to start dialysis on them that night like it was probably one of the craziest busiest nights I’ve ever had And the whole time you’re going you’re going you’re going you just have to go from task to task every kind of cylinders firing in you you just go go go go go, but I don’t think it’s just about Processing what happened the night before, you know, sometimes something will happen even a couple of weeks ago that you haven’t had a chance to really think about or fully deal with the emotions that come with it and for me there was a patient who passed away and I Got to know the family even thinking about it. I feel emotional like I I It was really really tough to have to tell the the Family that this person had passed away and we did everything we could and there was actually nothing more that we can do. I actually really debated whether or not to share these clips with you guys and it just just feels so vulnerable and often in medicine It feels like we just kind of sweep these moments under the rug But I think it’s important to shed light on it because we all experience it So then the question really becomes how do you deal with all these emotions and these huge life experiences? I think it happens on multiple levels and the first one probably happens in the hospital with the whole team And I’m really lucky that any ICU that I’ve been working at there have been formal Debriefing sessions after really tough codes. So all the nurses doctors respiratory therapists All their students will get together and sit in a room and we get to chat about what went Well, what didn’t go well, and I think it really starts a dialogue Where it’s not just people in the hallways whispering about the experience, but we can all come together But there’s got to be something more after that for me anyway And a lot of that becomes more informal with other fellow residents who maybe understand the experience you’ve been through Obviously for me talking is is big right
I love talking a new tube and someone who likes to connect with people to sort through my emotions and what I’m thinking but I’ve got a lot of friends who would much prefer to go on a long run or to write or to journal and that’s how they process and I think just either way you just need to find a way that’s right for you and Sometimes after all the VAT Things still linger inside and I’m starting to learn that I don’t think that’s a bad thing I think that those are the patients or the families that just stick with you and they make you a stronger more empathetic person and doctor and That’s in some ways a privilege that we get to see the full range in life from the biggest highs to the biggest Lows and that’s part of what drew me to medicine because it’s so real and you get to have such an impact Even if it can make some really really tough days So I know it’s a heavy conversation and out of this I’m hoping it will be a reminder to take care of yourself and Also to look out for anyone else who may be struggling and to take care of them to lend an ear lend a shoulder Whatever they need because we’re in this together. And this is what it means to be human is to be Experiencing all of this the good days and the bad. So I’m really looking forward to hearing your comments and hearing what you think So bye for now and I will be chatting you guys really soon You


100 thoughts on “FACING DEATH: What Doctors Don’t Talk About

  1. Debriefs are SO helpful. Working as a caregiver in an assisted living facility there are a couple of us that talk about what happened when we have a resident we had to send to the hospital/are actively dying and on hospice.

    I know the couple residents that we have who aren't actively dying yet, but already have a hospice plan in place are residents that I will have to deal with a lot of emotions once they actually die. I keep finding myself trying to make them smile or laugh every day I'm at work, and hope that once they do die, I'll remember those fun moments where we were able to laugh about something.

  2. I am just starting my career in radiology and am watching your videos to prepare myself for hospital life.. Your emotions are what will make you a fantastic doctor. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I understand this very well. I am a nursing student in sweden and we do debreafing as well. Alot of the emotions turn to some what distastefull when the medical staff chats about it and even sometimes laughs about some situations along the way. I find debreafing to be a usefull way of dealing with all thoughts and comments and get rid of the access thoughts and emotions to be able to function and still have a professional view on things

  4. I can see myself being able to deal with these emotions if I truly know that I and the team have done everything we could and have supported that family as much as we could. But I, as a high school student still, am horrified at the possibility of a patient passing because I made a mistake or overlooked a small symptom and then I will not only have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life, but also with the understanding that the family, even if they are really the nicest people, are hating me because the life of their loved one was in my hands, they trusted me and yet I’ve failed them. And coming from a perspective of someone’s who’s had family in life threatening situations, I know personally that in those moments logic does not work and I didn’t care about how tired the doctors were, how stressed and overloaded they were with too many patients, I just knew that my one and only loved one was dying and they didn’t do everything that was needed. So how would you deal with the emotions after a death when you know you didn’t do everything that you could?

  5. I’ve been a Nurse Practitioner in urgent care for nearly 20 years. During training, I was an ER nurse as well as a firefighter. I’ve seen some horrific things. Some I still see as vividly as if they were yesterday. I wish I had processed these things more thoroughly. Talking to other professionals, finding that individual way to find peace and utilizing resources like critical incident stress debriefings are essential. May you be blessed in your career and come to realize that death is as much a part of life as birth is. We can provide compassionate and loving care throughout it as well. Love your videos!

  6. Your message is very powerful and it provokes some important topics we should talk about more….I agree 100% with you in that we should be reminded to take care of ourselves more, as well as the people around us and try to be a better human being.

  7. Death from an accident, not too much is in your hands. But imagine a neurosurgeon who works with brain tumors ? His patient walks in there itself and nobody knows if they will walk out normal, disabled or dead. Its sad but mad respect to all doctors out there. Im a 5th yesr dental student and honestly dentistry doesnt feel like a medical field, its so easy compared with what u guys go thru. Respect

  8. I will never forget when my grandma passed away in the hospital. Immediately afterwards, my family was waiting on her remains to be moved to the hospital morgue. All the staff was very quiet, respectful, and comforting. Well, almost all.

    A resident was filling out her death certificate at the unit desk. He and a nurse were laughing and playing, swatting at each other with their hands like kids. I walked up to the desk to ask a question. I saw he had my grandma’s death certificate in one hand while he was playing with the other. While he did not have to care, I felt in light of the circumstances, a better decorum was in order. I lost my temper and sternly requested he quit playing and finish the task at hand. I slammed my hand on the desk so hard they both jumped. A terrible time made worse.

    Thank you for being sensitive to the feelings of patient’s families. It’s necessary.

  9. My grandpa passed away on November 6th, and he passed away natually in hospice. My grandmother passed away on November 17th in ICU (due to pneumococcus pneumonia and very low lung compliance). For me personally my grandpas passing was painful, but I understood that it was his time (he was 85). For my grandma it’s still very difficult for me to understand sometimes( she was 74). I know there was nothing they could do, but it was just so shocking. She fought very hard for about a month in the ICU. She was intubated, she had a central line, and they even started her on ECMO. It’s just crazy how people can go from heathy to extremely sick in a short amount of time. I’m just glad they get to be together, and that they don’t have to be in anymore pain.

  10. I was born at 27 weeks, I shouldn't have survived. But I did.
    3 years later, I woke up to a pool of sweat on my mattress and I couldn't feel my leg. My mother was heartbroken and thought that there was no way in hell that I could have survived. But I did.
    This year, a suicide attempt occurred. I didn't think I would survive. But I did.
    Thank you, for all the medical staff working hours on end to help the sick, even when difficult situations arise.
    I am infinitely grateful for your service to the world <3

  11. My mom is a hospice nurse, so she faces death all the time. That’s made hearing about death seem like a normal thing. When I was younger I thought it might give me advantage when I do become a doctor, but I’ve never seen it first hand. I know when I inevitably witness death, it will be a lot different than being woken up in the middle of the night. It’s good that you’re making videos that give advice on how to deal with the darker side of the medical field and I’m sure the information will help me a few years down the line.

  12. im 34 now i have lost 6 of my close friends before i turned 21 and the love of my life thanks to a drunk by 18. death sucks

  13. I started recently at a Toronto Hospital (Housekeeping Staff),late into one of my shifts, A code blue rang out on the ward and i saw first hand all the nurses head into a room like they have done many times before and worked on them, tried everything, family notified regarding what the team should do. sadly the patient didn't make it, I had no emotion on the ward because the work was keeping me focused on what i had to do before i could leave (didnt want the overnight team to have to deal with a whole list of things in addition to their own ). I left the ward, signed out and left the hospital. once i was outside walking, i realized which patient it was and i was probably one of the last people they talked to before they coded (which was around 20 mins prior). they talked to me, their last word was probably to me "Thank you" ( I was changing the garbage bags around the whole ward). it still sticks with me I didnt know this person, Only saw them that shift but I had a connection with them. I feel guilty for not being that upset about losing the patient unlike the nurses who knew the patient longer than i did.

  14. I work in the activities dept at a nursing home and i get a more filtered version of this on pretty much a daily basis. I’ve seen some pretty gnarly stuff and I’ve had some intense experiences with death. I also view previewing death as a privilege. My health care setting isn’t for everyone, but it is so special to be able to work with residents that have lived a full life and make their final days, months, years something unexpectedly fun!

    if you’re interested in this perspective, i strongly urge you to volunteer in the activities department at a nursing home in your neighborhood. go in with an open mind and seeing the elderly as your peers and you will learn so much about life, death, and everything in between.

  15. Do you ever feel like its a shock to go from quiet studying, to running around a hospital like a madman with people dying around you? Or is there something you do to prepare for when that time comes?

  16. I REALLY appreciate you sharing this with us! ❤️ I think it’s important to know, even for non-medical people, so that we can be properly supporting our medical professionals.

    Sending gentle hugs 💕
    xx S.

    (PS. Small request! I have a medical condition that makes processing things hard. I really struggled to make it through the “rant” part of this video, because the background music during that part was so loud / busy that my brain couldn’t process what you were saying. I’m a pianist – I love classical music! But not at the same time as talking.

    I haven’t come across this problem in any of your newer videos, so maybe you’re already aware of it. Regardless – I really appreciate your videos 💕)

  17. This can be really challenging seeing families broken, however,
    You are so strong for sharing your experience at the hospital. You are my motivation to push toward something you love! I love how informative and how heart felt your videos are. You are unique and I really enjoy watching and learning about the medical world 💕

  18. Thank you so much for the amazing content and showing every side. You display every emotion and also experience in the best 3ay possible. Thank you so much.

  19. I can remember a paramedic saying that he can usually dissociate his feelings in most situations hes involved in but when children are involved, it affects him

  20. I'm a year late to this conversation. I had a kidney removed and a biopsy after the removal. The most awkward time for me was when the doctor sheepishly told me it was cancer. I just said ok, anything else? I was not disturbed by the result. I had just lost mum and her twin sister in a three month period. I really was ok with it. The doctor called in a nurse, who then took me into a side room to ask if I was depressed 🙂 I said no, just used to it. I really appreciate how awful it must be for doctors to have to anticipate and deal with the strong emotions that come with a diagnosis. I wouldn't want to step into your shoes, but sometimes, it's just ok. Love to all the medical staff out there.

  21. Lots of this video reminds me of my own experiences in the field as a paramedic. Everybody has their own coping mechanisms, but I agree it wears on you even so. We all try to watch each other after the rough calls.

  22. When I was in an outpatient program, I saw a purple, shriveled up man go to the morgue. I had to report and the entrance way I went in was next to the morgue. Great for us mental patients. He looked like something really bad had happened to him. It wasn't a normal dead person, and he wasn't old.. Another surprise was in the waiting room with a special forces guy who'd taken a gunshot in the head and had plates in his head. He shaved because I think he was proud. He wasn't bragging but felt cool, you know? He was absolutely fine. Functioned.

  23. I used to work with doctors, traveling to different continuing education events. Every single one of them told me that working in a hospital setting is the toughest part about practicing. Your videos (these type and the ones that count the hours you work per week) are really eye opening. Everyone thinks about doctors and associates them with “expensive cars, nice houses, etc….”. But you are people, too. You deal with the deaths of people of all ages, kids included. And it seems like you clean up the patients room and move on. Meanwhile, you work long hours, don’t get much sleep or food during your shifts, and absolutely need time to digest what you experience during the day. You’re a hero on this medium. You should know that.

  24. This is why I could not go into nursing. I seriously liked it so much but I’m too terrified of seeing people die or making a mistake and having to live with it.
    I’m in Business management now but still am lost :/
    Thanks to all the nurses and doctors !! I appreciate all of you.

  25. The two experiences I have with losing someone have been when I lost my grandfather none of the doctors or nurses cared really it was like they were robots and then losing my mom it was a total different experience me and my family got to talk to someone and they heard us out about how we were actually feeling, they told us to give the social worker a call if we had any questions at all and it did help my grandma but me I found my own way of coping I was going out and seeing my boyfriend almost every week just so I didnt have to be at home…I know it sounds selfish but I didnt feel comfortable or like it was home after that. I'm grateful for the doctors and nurses that stay up all night to try to save someone's mom daughter son brother sister father anything they lose sleep to make people who lose someone feel less alone so if I can go into the medical field I'm gonna do everything I can especially if I see someone who is as young as I was when I lost my mom because it sucks a lot.

  26. I remember a nurse asking me if I wanted to talk the a Chaplin. Has to be the worst thing someone has ever asked me. I knew she was going to die right then. They called it a few hours later.

  27. humble but, reality sinks in. Thank you, Dr Siobhan, for looking the other way (Doctors and Nurses)! 😔

  28. Hi Doctor !
    I totally get you !
    And I am stunned about your Violin abilities and how the heck you found the
    time to be such an amazing musician at such a short time and be so good
    just before getting to Med School !!
    THAT IS REALLY IMPRESSIVE AND VERY HARD TO DO SPECIALY ON A VIOLIN !
    Please dont ever let anyone make you become a robot MD ! There are way too many already !
    Stay always human with feelings and you'll be an amazing Doctor as you are now with that beautiful soul and such a nice smile and your eyes too.
    Thanks for these videos and keep it up ! 😎

  29. So I found out my grandpa has brain cancer and it's tough, thank God the cancer is responding to medication and is shrinking but it's still tough.

  30. My mom passed away two weeks ago in the ICU and i can't get over it yet. Furthermore i really started to disbelieve in medicine as whole and i want to quit medical school for good!

    Anyone has a practical solution for me?

  31. As a funeral director's apprentice/soon to be funeral director, I can tell you that death is never a pleasant experience.

    I have gone into situations where it was known and it was planned for as the patient was dying for a long time and then situations where it was sudden, gone without notice, each time the emotion that is in the room feels like the air got 10 pounds heavier. As humans we are wired to fear death to a degree as it means finality, no one truly knows what happens after that switch is turned off and we can only guess. Even for someone who is just seeing a dead body, it's a truly shocking experience. I envy doctors when it comes to your composure in the face of death and your ability to fight off its grip for most if not all your cases. Keep on trucking bud, the world needs people like you.

  32. Hay doc, aye. I'm 28. Should have when to medical school when I was 19. But didn't. Know what I wanted to do. With my life.
    Is 28 to late to start medical school.
    I'm not broke but not rich havnt been in school since I was 23ish. Have 2 kids and a hubby.
    Medical school has always tugged on my life. Pulling me in. Never took the leap. I feel I'm to old, not smartenough, not knowledgeable enough and far to broke. Advice love?,

  33. You are doing everything you can. Remember you did put in those efforts but fight against nature is tough and you can’t blame yourself. Wake up and know you are willing to put in more efforts in order to save lives today x love your videos xxx

  34. Thank you for sharing this. I'm currently going through the process to become a Community Cardiac First Responder and have recently done a lot of training around Critical Incident Stress Management. Really sounds like you have a great team around you and I know from my CISM training that the team debriefs will be really helpful.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there in sharing this and thanks too for all the content you put up.

  35. What was it like the first time you coded your patient and called time of death. I was in a situation where I had to remove life support on my wife. The Doctor came in a Prayed for me and asked me if I was ready, It only took minutes for my wife to pass. But the whole ICU was with me and my son when she was gone. It has to be hard to not cry.

  36. Binge wathing your videos (love your content!!!) and thought I could share my own experience as well. I was a secretary to a family doctor several years ago, didn't even actually see the patients in the moment of passing away but…You see a person almost everyday, you talk to them sometimes knowing them personally even better than the doctor because you have the time to chat while the doctor treats other patients, maybe you even become friends with them.Then one day their spouse/child/family member walks in the door wearing all black, with puffy red eyes and you immediately know – you'll never see this person again… I'm certainly NOT comparing this to actually trying to save someones life and seeing them pass away in front of your eyes. This must be a million times harder! I just wanted to say that there are many professions dealing with death and it's super important to address this and not just expect people to continue doing their thing like nothing happened. Thank you for using your platform to speak about it 🙂

  37. I can't imagine how hurtful it must be to see death and it's even harder when you have to explain the situation to the families of patients who have passed away

  38. Im a doctor. I see a lot of deaths. I always feel sad when a patient died and it doesnt get any easier. Sometimes we just know that the patient condition is very bad and we got this feeling that the patient is not going to make it but we still have to do and hope the best for our patient. handling a blue code is an adrenaline rush ,there's always a guilty feeling when the patient doesnt make it no matter how hard you try not to feel guilty. But in the end you cant always blame yourself maybe it's the best way for the patient at least he/she doesnt have to be suffered anymore. You know the mask can be useful to hide your lips when you're trying hard not to cry by biting your lips. After telling the family about the death and comforting them for a moment i always keep a distance to control my emotion.

  39. ALWAYS talk if you need to. Even if it's on youtube. We do listen and we grieve with you. Even if you need to cry, do it and know that we will cry with you and you have our virtual shoulders to lay on! Love you Doctor! ❤

  40. I'm not sure why I appreciate this video so much. Your videos are amazing. You are obviously very beautiful, and young, and smart. You articulate perfectly. You are always smiling and happy. You seem to never be grumpy or tired or cranky. Don't get me wrong. Your are fantastic at being both a physician and YouTuber. It's quite intimidating. With this video, it's comforting to know that you have your struggles too. Keep up the amazing work.

  41. i'll be honest, i kinda have always wanted to be a doctor but im just so freakin squeamish and i wouldn't make it. but i want to be able to have that impact on people's lives and do everything i can to save lives. i'm a person who really cares about life and wants to preserve it because it's so precious and i'm amazed by the human body and how it works and how intricate it is. idk but these are the kinds of videos that make me wish i wasn't so squeamish so i could survive med school lol

  42. When I was 7 years old my grandma was in the hospital for what seemed like several weeks when in reality it was probably only a week or so. She had a lot of issues – diabetic, heart disease, smoker – I don’t remember what really caused her death, but I was in the room when she passed. The whole family was brought to a room and let us go in groups of 3 to say our goodbyes. I felt her soul leave the room. I still get shivers thinking about it. I guess since then I’ve never been afraid of death because I was introduced to it at such a young age. I know it’s a part of life as sad as it is.

  43. This video touched me deeply. My father was a doctor. He was among the first generation of doctors trained post World War II. A lot of battlefield experiences had trickled down into medical education during his training. That manifested itself in a certain stoic "matter-of-factness" when it came to dying and death. I used to go with him on rounds occasionally. When I was old enough to process mortality I asked him about how he was able to detach himself from it. He said "I don't, I can't. I compartmentalize mentally. In one compartment I am a physician, an analytical, data driven realist. I cannot serve my patients or their families any other way. In the other compartments I grieve and I rage against the unfairness to those taken too soon or those who linger too long." My father enjoyed a long, illustrious career being able to detach himself. But he felt the wins and the losses. All of them.

    It sounds, from this video, that you're on a similar journey.

  44. Doctors in my country are constantly killed and threatened…we have to deal with that as well and you really don’t know the value of being safe until you face that

  45. True physicians and nurses are called of God because of their love for their fellow man. Your empathy and compassion drew you to this field and I wish there were many more like you. God bless you for caring about your patients and their families. I am keeping you tucked close to my heart in prayer. Thank you for being you. ❤️

  46. ICU is sad scary place from a paitent / family member view we need comfort I had a Med student hold my hand before it was so nice keep up the great work

  47. Thank-you for sharing. I wish you would've been the person to tell me my Dad had passed. The one that did wasn't very compassionate. This video oddly has helped. Thankyou

  48. Yeah I would imagine this is not an easy subject to bring up. I remember my dad getting home from work, and telling me the news that my grandmother passed away. Even though I knew the time was close, I still spent most of that evening in my room crying. My dad had gotten the news from my uncle earlier in the day, and the decision was not to tell the grandkids (me, my sister, and my cousins) until after we got home from work, and not interrupt our work day.

  49. I know I'm way late to comment. It was really nice seeing you talk about this. Seeing your empathy. My father passed of a stroke 11 years ago. He was in ICU by the time I flew across the US and my plane landed. I rushed up to spend 3 hours with him before he died. My mom, sis and myself were there in the hallway balling our eyes out afterwards. A nurse walked up to us and told us they were sending a professional to counsel us immediately. We stood in the hallway for two hours with shocked and saddened faces. We were numb. Nobody showed up to council us… we were exhausted with grief and walked away feeling let down even more. No comfort or words to explain what happens next. Always keep that.. don't let yourself get "use" to seeing it and reach out or have staff reach out to comfort.

  50. Thanks for sharing. It was very informative for me. As a medical i have always been curious as how u people deal with such a condition.

  51. I love this we as future physicians need to have the time to process what is happening. I love this video it takes a lot keep up the great work!!!

  52. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us! And thank you for everything you do day to day. I'm a fellow Canadian. My dad is actually from Winnipeg as well! You showed up in my suggested videos this afternoon and I've watched a dozen of your videos so far, but this is the first one I'm commenting on. It is so wonderful to see someone so passionate about their job. I can't even imagine how it feels to deal with some of the things you have to deal with. But I'm glad you are able to speak about your emotions, and talk to fellow colleagues when you need to. Your job focuses so much on other people, but is so important to take care of your mental health as well. I'm excited to see what you are up to now, as I continue on with your videos. 🙂

  53. I have witnessed a rapid response that quickly turned to a code blue, and since then, the person has expressed how they don't want to live like this, and I can't help but cry.
    Do Drs ever later feel that the person should have been a dnr?

  54. This is good Doctors have feelings too.They need to take care of their mentel needs to be able to work and to be able to take care of we the patients…Please keep healthy doctors.like you all tell us.Take care of your health and well being..

  55. Google or Wikipedia, Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5.
    Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow..
    Life is but a poor player, a shadow that struts and frets its time ion the stage, filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  56. I really want to be a pediatrician when I am old enough. Sometimes though, when I think about things like this… I am not afraid of death and never have been. But if a patient of mine died, even if there was nothing I could have done about it, I think I would be destroyed. To think that I could have done something more. And someday, the decision between knowing that I can save lives or be too afraid of being devastated by losing them, then I will be able to make my decision. But until then, I am on the brink of But what if they die vs. But I can save so many more.

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