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I am having some issues being an atheist that works in hospice.

I just can't take much more of everybody saying 'you will see them again'. There is too much prayer going on. Today the nurse I work with is talking about seeing her dad and sister in her dreams and she really thinks that they came down from heaven to visit her in her dreams. I so want to explain that if you think of something long enough before you go to bed you will dream about it. I want to tell every family member I meet that I am an atheist although I would probably get fired. I don't understand how anybody could still have faith in religion after seeing their family members drowning in secretions and turning purple! Any ideas of how to deal in this situation?

 
ashisamom

Asked by ashisamom at 1:40 AM on Aug. 2, 2010 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 25 (23,819 Credits)
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Answers (29)
  • I think the only solution is to find a new job :p
    They need to believe what they do to help with their grief, so they will always say the same things. It is going to drive you insane if you keep hearing it over and over again.
    Best of Luck... You really are stuck between the rock and the hard place.
    SleepingBeautee

    Answer by SleepingBeautee at 1:43 AM on Aug. 2, 2010

  • sweetie, I think you are in the wrong job
    DarkFaery131

    Answer by DarkFaery131 at 1:46 AM on Aug. 2, 2010

  • When people are in the toughest situations, they usually turn to their religion for strength. Just like you don't like having others' beliefs pushed on you, don't try to ruin theirs by clouding the one glimmer of hope they may have. If hearing how they deal with grief is that difficult for you, then I think you should start looking for a new job.
    nicolemstacy

    Answer by nicolemstacy at 1:50 AM on Aug. 2, 2010

  • i have been a nurse for over 20yrs, and first of all, i wouldn't work for a hospice that allowed its patients to turn purple and drown in secretions. There are meds that can and do alleviate the suffering that often comes with dying. That's the whole point of hospice, to provide dignity in death. Just reading that makes me sorry for the ones who choose this hospice!

    As far as your question about your faith, or lack thereof, you just have to do your best to remain professional while you help your patients. i am a Christian, and *most* hospices are faith based, but i had a few patients (or family members) who were not believers, so i did not discuss anything related to beliefs or afterlife. It can be a challenge, but if you really love what you do, you can find a way to make it work.

    i wouldn't 'fake it', however. What if someone grabs your hand in a moment of grief and wants you to pray with them?
    inkydorei

    Answer by inkydorei at 1:56 AM on Aug. 2, 2010

  • not think about it so much.

    people must be allowed to have their opinion even if it is not accurate - my dad thinks "god saved him" from death. i don't believe in that sort of thing at all but i am not going to take away what give my father peace...

    shrug it off the best you can and keep on going. if you life what you do then maybe not spend so much time with the other women
    MoMoFu

    Answer by MoMoFu at 1:45 AM on Aug. 2, 2010

  • ha i was pulled aside during training for being a cna - my instructor told me i should find a god and that would help me.

    i had problems with bodily functions lol.
    MoMoFu

    Answer by MoMoFu at 1:49 AM on Aug. 2, 2010

  • I hear ya Hotmama. This is such a good question ashisamom. As you can see it may have helped people of different beliefs understand one another a little better.
    pnwmom

    Answer by pnwmom at 4:12 AM on Aug. 2, 2010

  • You have to be compassinate and provide patients and families with comfort, so you need to respect what they believe even if it doesn't follow your beliefs.


    With your coworker and her dream, let that be her experience and interpretation, even if you don't agree. Don't feel like you have to be right and she is wrong.


    I don't think christians should preach to atheists or pagans when it's not wanted either. I work in a Catholic hospital, but there are many different religious ministers from different relgious backgrounds that come through to talk to patients when the patients request it.  Patients are asked when they are admitted if there is any religious affiliations they want on record.  This is done so their beliefs can be respected.  Treat people the way you would want to be treated, just being caring and don't look down on them.

    RyansMom001

    Answer by RyansMom001 at 7:08 AM on Aug. 2, 2010

  • i thought hospice was for 'the end' and for the purpose of making the patient as comfortable as possible while dying..?? if that means allowing them to believe or pray or talk about their hoped-for afterlife, then that's what it means.
    your job does not require you to be untrue to yourself, just to take care of the patient's end-of-life needs.
    if this one part (and its big..there's a lot of peeps out there who believe in an afterlife, etc.) is keeping you from doing/enjoying your profession, its time you look elsewhere for employment.
    dullscissors

    Answer by dullscissors at 10:25 AM on Aug. 2, 2010

  • Sorry I ran out of room...

    Anyways, learn to side-step. When you hear things you don't agree with or someone says something like that to you, just learn to be kind without agreeing. You don't have to agree with their beliefs to be sympathetic to their want to continue the love they had while here... My Uncle died not to long ago, and it's a huge comfort for his family to believe that he's in heaven... So when they say things I don't agree with or don't share a belief in I simply nod or find some other way to side step the comment... There is really no reason to disagree over something like that.

    As for the prayer, unless they are asking you to join them, I would say just leave the room or stand quietly (out of respect) for a moment while they finish. If it makes them feel better, who cares if there is a God listening or not? You're there to make them comfortable - and this does just that...
    SabrinaMBowen

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 12:12 PM on Aug. 2, 2010

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