It’s the most important thing

People Need To Know Someone Cares.
I was a newly qualified nurse and I had moved to a new country and was really feeling totally out of my depth on my first shift. Everything was different and I was scared and unsure. I’d been flung in at the deep end working in an A&E ward in a hospital that I’d never set foot in before.

I was so busy that night, rushing around trying to look after all my poorly patients, and I barely had time to remember their names, never mind spend time talking to them.

Just as my shift was about to end, an elderly lady with severe breathing problems pressed her buzzer and I popped my head around her door and asked if she was okay. This lady was very poorly and had needed lots of attention throughout my shift.
She was sitting up in bed and asked me to come in.

“I can see you’ve been busy” she said, “I just wanted to thank you for taking such good care of me.”

I went up to the bed and took the ladies hand in mine. I couldn’t believe that someone so poorly had even noticed how busy I was let alone taken the time to call to me as my shift ended to thank me! 

As I gave her my thanks and asked if there was anything I could get her before I left, she began to cry.

“Oh I’m so sorry,” I said, “I didn’t mean to upset you, are you alright?”

She squeezed my hand and said “No, that’s not why I’m crying. It’s just the first time someone has held my hand in over 2 years.”

I took my coat off and sat down with her and we talked for a while before she fell asleep. She had lost her husband and her son in an accident two years previously and had been in a warden controlled flat ever since. Her breathing was bad, but her loneliness was worse. 

I do hope that I made her feel better. When I came on shift the next day she had passed away. 

I’ve come across many patients in the years since then, but this lady’s story always stayed with me. Her simple gratitude that evening made me go home after my first ever shift as a qualified nurse knowing 100% that I’d made the right career choice.

Sometimes we can be so busy looking after people that we forget to care about them. She taught me that having someone’s hand to hold can be the most important thing in the world. – Anon 


  1. This reminds me a similar situation I found myself in 25 years ago. I was working in a hospice at the time. We were full – 12 patients with just me and one other nurse on night duty.

    Around 10pm trying to get the night time medications given out so people could get pain relief and start to think about sleeping.

    One lady had Motor Neurone Disease (ALS); she was very ill and could barely communicate. Her Husband was there as he had been sleeping in the same room for the last week feeling that he was the only person that could understand her needs.

    I went into her room to change the needle for her pain relief drugs and turn her over to prevent pressure sores. Through slight head movements she could let me know she wasn’t comfortable so I kept adjusting her arm ‘this way’ and then her head ‘that way’. I was keep to get the other patients settled but tried not to show it – just kept making slight adjustments.

    After a while of doing this I went to see to the needs of some other people but kept going back to check on the lady and her Husband – making more minor adjustments each time but still not quite getting it ‘right’.

    As soon as I could I went back to see the lady again. She still wasn’t comfortable so I continued trying to get her into a position that was ;just right’ for her. After about half an hour I got the look and the slight smile that let me know we’d got there in the end and she was comfortable. That smile said everything but so did the genuine thank you that her Husband gave me.

    I turned the light down, wished them ‘sleep well’ and quietly pulled the door close.

    The night continued with looking after the other patients. I’d looked through their door about an hour later but both were asleep.

    About half an hour later the lady’s husband came to get me. In barely a whisper he asked me to go with him as his wife had gone. Instinctively I took his hand and went with him and yes, he was right, his wife had passed away. He looked at me and with tears in his eyes thanked me for making her so comfortable that she could relax and not fight death any more.

    I was in tears with him, and am now as I write this, but I was so pleased that I had persevered to make a wonderful lady comfortable and not brushed her off because I was so busy.

    Physical touch and caring are so important, in this case it made a massive difference.

    1. RippleKindness says:

      Tracey, how wonderful that you were able to be the last person to care for and show kindness towards this lady. I’m sure her husband’s gratitude said it all, but that memory is a precious one that should fill your heart with pride. 😀

  2. RippleKindness says:

    I agree Elaine. A person needs a certain amount of human interaction, include touch for survival. There’s nothing quite like a good hug.

  3. Elaine Estes says:

    I too was a nurse. The loneliness of so many people is astounding. A touch can mean so much. I am widowed but have lots of friends and two cats. If I didn’t get my hugs from my friends, I would feel very lonely. The hugs make the difference. I also give them freely!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *