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Nearly 70 years into marriage, husband and wife die on same day

Nearly 70 years into marriage, husband and wife die on same day

This story was submitted by Theresa Prosser, MSN, RN, a nurse at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. She is the clinical nurse manager for the hospital’s Medical/Oncology Specialty Care Unit, as well as the Pediatrics and Infusion units. 

In the clinical areas of a hospital, we often have the opportunity to witness life-altering events firsthand.

Recently, a husband and wife were both admitted to the nursing unit I manage at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. The couple had been getting by in an assisted living setting — the husband pretty much caring for the wife, who had dementia. She had fallen at home, fracturing her sacrum. Her health and condition made her not a surgical candidate, so she was admitted.

The following day, the husband fell at home, fracturing his hip. He, too, was not a candidate for any additional intervention, and was admitted as well.

Over the course of several days, through partnership with the family, hospice, social work/care management, nursing, palliative care, chaplaincy and the physicians, the decision was made to transition the couple to inpatient hospice, to provide comfort-based care here in our facility until they both passed.

Staff advocated for the couple to be placed in the same room — something that is not typical practice. We made it happen, though, with the blessing of our infection control nurse, due to the fact only one of them was on isolation precautions. As they were wheeled into the room, the staff put the beds close enough together so that they could reach out and hold hands, something the couple did immediately.

Both of the patients and the family were grateful to have them together again, as they were married for nearly 70 years and were referred to as “true soul mates.” Over the course of two days, both of their conditions deteriorated, and the unit charge nurse came to me and said, “Take a look into that room if you need a reason to validate why we do what we do.” Both the husband and wife were now not responding, but breathing in complete sequence with each other. Peacefully. What a testament to love and the human spirit! They both passed on the same day — the husband just several hours before the wife.

As a nurse, I feel that being able to provide a patient and their family/loved ones with a comfortable, peaceful transition is an honor. I also believe that as caregivers, we get just as much out of our patients as we give to them. Witnessing this event recharged my batteries and makes me thankful for everyone who works within our walls. Hopefully, it will do the same for you, as it is not about associates who work on a specific unit, but about everyone working together.

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12 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

  2. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story so that we may all be uplifted by it. Everyone reading about your truly thoughtful and patient centered care will undoubtedly share in your sadness and in your happiness, as this story is both all at once.

    The spiritual gifts we receive from our patients are many. You have exemplified that beautifully in your story. God bless you all.

  3. Thank you! I write this with tear filled eyes, a combination of happiness, joy and relief that this couple was able to share their last hours together!

  4. Amazing and touching story (tears)! Awesome job to all the team players involved you truly helped to facilitate a miracle. You guys make me proud to be a Nurse! I know we all have our stories as Nurses and Healthcare personnel but it is to refreshing and energizing to read one every now and again. High five! And thank you all for sharing!

  5. Katherine Hilden August 9, 2017 at 1:08 pm · Reply

    What trash. This is a story for people magazine. Not science. I’m unsubscribing Bye.

  6. I feel for that Katherine that wasn’t able to see thru what the nurses and personnel did fot that couple and I praise theis good judgment to keep that couple togther
    as they could not repair tbeir problem….but allowed them to be as comfortable as possible as they attendied to them making them as comfotable in their last moments on earth. My hat is off to all the personnel for their human act of compssion God bless you always!

  7. So good to read of this beautiful example of “end of life” care within our walls! Feeling the blessing of being a nurse here! Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.

  8. Just a beautiful story and their love was forever. God Bless the personnel for doing the right thing.

  9. Thank you Theresa,

    Yes, this was a beautiful story with a wonderful ending. It also exemplifies the critical role of nursing in the alleviation of suffering and as an advocate for their patients.

  10. Tracey Stills

    What a true testament to “till death do us part.” Great collaboration through different departments for a glorious outcome. Beautiful story.

  11. What a beautiful story. It’s amazing how God allowed them to transition together so the other wouldn’t be alone.

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About the Author

Theresa Prosser
Theresa Prosser

Theresa Prosser, MSN, RN, is an Advocate Nurse at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. She is the clinical nurse manager for the hospital’s Medical/Oncology Specialty Care Unit, as well as the Pediatrics and Infusion units. She also has special interest in palliative and hospice care. In her spare time, Theresa enjoys gardening, sports and travel.

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