The unspoken of and unavoidable fact of working as a certified nursing assistant is the fact that death lingers around you. Death is stronger when you are dealing with the seniors and the critly ill, but it can strike anywhere, at any time. Dealing with this aspect of the job is very important: you have to recognize the signs of a patient dying and helping him or her pass with dignity and then help the family afterwards.
You can not easily prepare for the fact that you have to work with death, but there are some hard facts to put down. First, you have to know when death is imminent so that you can add the right notes to the patient's charts and keep a close eye on your patients in case you are needed. Signs of death approaching include a drop in body temperature, loss of muscle tone, circulation slows, blurry vision and breathing changes. These things must be noted in the patient's charts for your supervisor to see.
Aside from dealing with the hard facts of impeding death, another role will be helping a patient to die comfortably and with dignity. Some patients may ask for things like hand holding, playing music or allowing church figures and the family come in. Basically whatever the patient wants in his or her final hours, he or she gets. Personalities also play a strong role here: some are resigned to death, some are at peace with it and some are angry, scared or depressed. Any of these things have to be deal with compassionately.
As a CNA, death will be hard on you too. Many nursing assistants find that they need counseling and support throughout the process. It's not easy losing people, particularly those you have worked with for a while and feeling empty, depressed and numb after a death is natural, but affects your life. Counseling can really help here, as can talking with others around you since mourning shared is mourning diminished.
Death is just a part of a CNA's life. It's not fun and it can be stressful, but in its own way, it can be rewarding to help people go from their life to whatever comes after with peace and comfort. If you work as a CNA, get used to the idea that you will be dealing with death at at least some point and learn how to handle it so that you can help your patients best.