Faith stories — yes, faith can be a part of nursing life

Published on February 4, 2022

Updated on March 25, 2024

and religion in the workplace; yes, has a place in work and when utilized to direct how you work and interact with your patients and families can result in a blessing that does not disrespect others.

This article came to be in part as a response to one of my favorite YouTube nursing channels where Nurse Katherine provides educational videos for new as well as experienced nurses. Her most recent episode at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_lE9O1I3LQ asks the valid question relating to the place of “Religion, Beliefs, and the practice of Medicine | should & can they be combined?”

As of this story, I currently work as a visiting hospice Registered Nurse Case Manager seeing terminally ill patients wherever they live whether they are at a hospital (), a facility (skilled, assisted, personal care, retirement community) or private home. There is a night and day difference between faith and religion as a follower of Christ Jesus. I try to let Colossians 3:23 be a daily reminder of whom I report to vs. a boss or organization. Daily I pray Philippians 4:4–7 to remind me to be gentle with everyone, and to avoid being anxious about anything. As I am a guest wherever I go, I try to honor my patients, families, and facilities to avoid anything that may appear to be proselyting my faith.

Since faith is 24x7x365 and not a piece of clothing to put on and take off to make others feel more comfortable, I do strive to let the spirit lead me. Last week, I walked into a facility patient's room where I found my patient Tony crying for the first time (gentle giant of a man who is stoic and never complains of pain or anything). He has a disease process causing everything to go stiff including his lungs. Tony could barely speak the words he could not breathe; he was in respiratory distress. I quickly find out the recommendation to have PRN lorazepam available was not yet processed by the facility provider team, and the Tony was saying no to morphine (later I found out he confused his family request to say no to oral with morphine). It was among the few times I felt helpless as a . I prayed aloud for Jesus to resolve the respiratory distress; and while I also used guided imagery, lowered the room's temperature, and made sure the head of the bed was at the right angle, given that the respiratory distress resolved in less than 15 minutes, I give glory to God the Highest for answering the prayer.

Let me share with you two other countless meaningful experiences I had that for me increase my faith and support me:

1) George was a World War II veteran who survived two (2) sinking ships at Pearl Harbor. His disease made it so he could only say two to four words at a time without having to take a few minutes to catch his breath. He would curse often, and frequently taken the Lord's name in vain. Most of the time, I would say “God is good” under my breath when George would curse God, but one time I asked him why he didn't curse Buda. George looked at me like I stepped out of an alien spaceship speaking an unknown language. He would then question me if there is a God why He allowed Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, prisoners of war, and the like. I would answer briefly and go over free will for which George himself knew well but didn't understand as it applied to God. Now over the several months I was his nurse (George lived all by himself), my wife and I would buy him apple sauce (he would take his pills with it) and would bring over holiday meals (my wife would cook); this wasn't part of the job, but God allows us to love those around us even the unlovable; and I loved George. After a few months of this George fired me as his nurse, asking for someone who would not mention religion. A few weeks later, he recognized he could not live alone and went to a local VA hospital. A few weeks after that, he ended up moving back to the area to live with a friend (his free will did involve not tolerating certain things). For me, it was an act of God that I was re-assigned as his nurse. I acted as if nothing happened and cared for him as I did in the past. I was the nurse who pronounced George when he died. Only then did I learn the impact of the actions I took for granted from a point of view. His family shared that George would question them as to why I came back, why I loved him, why I treated him with love after all the awful things he did (he screamed at me a lot towards the end of the time just before firing me). The family also shared I was the only one in the home from the agency where I worked that talked to George about God and God's love for him; they didn't understand why even our pastor didn't bring it up. That allowed me to share the Gospel with the family about how I loved George, that God always loved George, and sent His Only Begotten Son Jesus to live and die for George as Jesus lived and died for all of us including them. I don't know if they ever accepted Jesus; but it's not my place to save anyone (even as a nurse); that's God's job and the Holy Spirit in particular. It's my job to live in a way that represents my Savior (and no, I don't claim to do it perfectly as I fail consistently more than I like).

2) Greg was a younger man and married still in his prime of life when severe throat cancer made him terminal. Even with magic mouthwash, he told me drinking water was like drinking fire. One day when his wife was on errands and I was visiting Greg, he asked me to take his life using the comfort meds we had in the home. I never openly cried with a patient before, but during most of the visit I was sobbing on the couch with him. He was crying as he asked me to state he could not take it anymore… no one would no… he was dying anyway… we treat dogs and cats better… Why can't I help him? We cried and we cried, and I told him I couldn't kill him based on my faith. Though I left a shaken person… Was I wrong? Later that week his airway collapsed, and we put him in a temporary medical coma. Thankfully, a few days later his airway came back, and he was in and out of consciousness. He was on end-of-life daily RN visits. The Sunday before he passed, all his family was over, and they had a championship-type-bowl game on (forgive me as I don't know sports well). All the family was telling him it was ok to die; they would miss him, but it would be ok. When I was finished with my visit, I leaned over and said, “Greg, you can go now… I love you.” He looked me in the eyes, and stated, “I want to see who wins; I want to see the end.” When he finished the sentence, we both realized what he said in relation to just a few days back when he wanted me to take his life, and if we were on cue, we both burst out laughing with tears in our eyes. Several hours later into early Monday morning I pronounced Greg and as I was filling out the RN portion of the death certificate realized God's timing is always Perfect; God is always GOOD.

God doesn't always come up in my visits; and there are times I've had coworkers ask me “isn't that out of your scope of practice?” and yet if the opportunity comes for me to encourage someone's walk of faith or to share the Gospel, it would be bad of me to ignore the opportunity to be politically correct.

The Importance of Caregiver Journaling

Reporting Changes of Condition to Hospice

Eldercare Locator: a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The amount generated from these “qualifying purchases” helps to maintain this site.

My Aging Parent Needs Help!: 7 Step Guide to Caregiving with No Regrets, More Compassion, and Going from Overwhelmed to Organized [Includes Tips for Caregiver Burnout]

Take Back Your Life: A Caregiver's Guide to Finding Freedom in the Midst of Overwhelm

The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself

Dear Caregiver, It's Your Life Too: 71 Self-Care Tips To Manage Stress, Avoid Burnout And Find Joy Again While Caring For A Loved One

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved

The Art of Dying

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying

Oh hi there 👋 It's nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive updates on new articles to your inbox.

The emails we will send you only deal with educational articles, not requests to buy a single thing! Read our privacy policy for more information.

Share your love