Advice and development

How I’m learning to deal with death

Student Voice competition finalist Bethany Smith on overcoming anxiety to support a ‘good death’ 
Bethany Smith

Starting the palliative care and end of life optional module at university has allowed me to question my own beliefs about death as well as wanting to gain insight into others views.

Before starting this module, the thought of a child I was caring for dying filled me with anxiety. How, as a nursing student, can you ever be prepared for such an event? I spent days researching, watching documentaries and questioning my own values.

I came to the conclusion that most nursing students if not all of us are scared of death, of the unknown and worry about whether crying is ever appropriate. So far, the module has reduced my apprehension about death tremendously.

I have learned the importance of therapeutic conversation, family-centred care and recognising that each person has unique beliefs. My advice to others who feel the same is this: knowing the

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Starting the ‘palliative care and end of life’ optional module at university has allowed me to question my own beliefs about death as well as wanting to gain insight into others’ views. 

Before starting this module, the thought of a child I was caring for dying filled me with anxiety. How, as a nursing student, can you ever be prepared for such an event? I spent days researching, watching documentaries and questioning my own values.

I came to the conclusion that most nursing students – if not all of us – are scared of death, of the unknown and worry about whether crying is ever appropriate. So far, the module has reduced my apprehension about death tremendously.

I have learned the importance of therapeutic conversation, family-centred care and recognising that each person has unique beliefs. My advice to others who feel the same is this: knowing the best way to support the child and family, as well as how to deal with your own emotions, will ease the anxiety surrounding death and ensure you can care for a dying child. 

I am keen to put what I have learned into practice in the hope my actions can provide children with a ‘good death’ and ensure family members feel supported.

About the author

Bethany Smith is a second-year children and young people’s nursing student at the University of Salford

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