Amy . . .

What would you like to know? I am fun, but crazy. I have a most perfect husband, and 2 cats named Samson and Delilah. We are presently working on adopting a little girl from China and have a separate blog for that. I am a Christian and am working on a better relationship with him. I live in the Atlanta area and love sharing stories with people. I am also a pediatric nurse and I love it! I love to talk and meet new people and I love Disney Cruising

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Today's question..aka 2nd Question

Do you think lying is ever acceptable? Is there one lie that is ok to tell?
I ask this because when I first became a nurse, a senior nurse asked me this. She was a woman of God whom I deeply respected. When a patient died and the family asked if they were alone, she always told them no. She was trying to protect them. Do you think this is ok? I want to hear your thoughts


Jamie said...

It's a very fine distinction, but a good general rule is "If you are trying to protect yourself, don't do it. If you are trying to protect others, lie as often as necessary". Exceptions would be legal or criminal, and if you must be unpleasantly direct do it to their face and in private.

debi said...

Wow. That's a really tough question, Amy. I think Jamie answered it wonderfully though. I admit that I sometimes lie to protect others. But I do first try to come up with a way to be truthful in a non-hurtful way.

Asara said...

I'd have to agree with Jamie there.. lying to protect yourself is just selfish, and never really accomplishes anything, from what I've seen, except make people more angry when the lie is discovered. I'd have to add medical reasons to the list of exceptions, though. On both sides of the coin, too. It's never ok to lie to your doctor about symptoms, and it's never ok (imho) for a doctor to lie to a patient about what's going on with them. I think a better answer to "are they alone?" would be more like, "I believe they're not, I have faith that they are surrounded by their loved ones", because your answer reflects your faith.

Rory said...

Sorry to ask for more detail: Was the family asking if they were alone in the room when they died, or if someone was with them? Or were they asking if they are alone after death?

If the former, then I would think the safest thing to do would be to tell the truth. What if someone else related the truth and the nurse was found out to be telling a lie - how would the family feel then?

If the latter, then I guess, like Debi said, the nurse is merely extending her belief. In her own mind she is not lying.

Rory said...

Oh, sorry - I meant Asara. But Debi's point is also helpful:P

Karen said...

As a general rule, no its not ok. You shouldn't do it to protect yourself or others. There are often ways to avoid spilling the beans without lying, although it can be difficult when put on the spot. (i.e. to cover for a surprise party, etc) That said, omission can be a lie to. (i.e. if you know someone's spouse is cheating, etc.)It really depends on the situation. The best rule of thumb is to avoid if at all possible. I do know of someone who is ill and doesn't want to know how bad things get. They want to live their remaining time thinking things are fine/improving. Their loved ones honor this request by telling them they are ok. Obviously he isn't, and he knows the truth, but doesn't want to spend his time worried about it.

Patty said...

Very tough one. As a general rule, I would say lying is wrong. Period. But, in fact and in practice, I find gray areas all of the time. To answer the specific question about the senior nurse's lies, I'd say it is wrong. If they are asking the question, they want to know. They're willing to take a risk that they won't like the answer. That's why they asked. But as a woman of God, she could definitely share her belief that the deceased is not alone now.

amy said...

To clarify, the family wanted to know if the patient was alone when they passed. I can not imagine telling the family they were alone.

TeaMouse said...

I would have to say in some cases it's ok. I am a huge anti-lying person but in a situation like you described it's best for the family to believe the loved one was not alone - Things to consider: will telling the lie hurt anyone? Is it to get out of trouble for yourself?
If someone asks you if you liked their prized family recipe for blueberry pie and it tasted like old you have to tell the truth...I don't think so. I wouldn't go overboard but sometimes you have to decided what will cause more harm.
I know some people think a lie of any type is a major problem - even in the planning of a surprise party - that to me is a little extreme. Follow your consience it will guide you.

I am thankful for Oliver and our walks in the park.

Melody said...

Everyone has a great answer!

This question is a little tough and tricky. Well, it has to depend on situations. Like if you are lying to someone just for your own benefits (or even hurting the others), it's wrong.

On the other hand, if you want to protect a person, then I feel a white lie isn't really bad because you don't want to dash his/her hopes or make him/her think negatively. You are also giving him/her mentally support by doing so.

I am thankful for having what I have.

Sparky Duck said...

its ok to lie, but on small little bits. When the wife asks if I have taken the garbage out yet when she calls me from work, I usually say yes, or that I was on my way, knowing I have at least 2 hours to get it done. I sure hope the house isnt bugged.

Shoshana said...

In general, I wouldn't want to be lied to.

But in this instance, I guess it's ok.

It's hard to live in absolutes, there's always goign to be an exception.

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

Wow, you've gone all deep and philosophical on us here :)

I think lying to protect someone is probably ok, and when you're trying to spare someone a pain or hurt, I think that is probably ok too. The medical condition would apply here as well, if you're trying to spare the family something, then I think is a very compassionate thing to do.

Along those lines, I am always very thankful for the nurses and doctors who cared for my mom in the last few weeks of her life. Most of them were very sweet and compassionate to us and it helped a lot.

gil said...

I believe its wrong to lie especially if its to get you out of bother, generally one lie leads to another and grows and you can end up in a very deep hole. However in the case of the patient being alone well its giving comfort to those who are bereft and as a women of faith I believe that they are not alone.
A more humorous example is if a couple are getting ready to go out and the wife asks" Does my bum look big is this? - its a wise husband who answers Of course not you look lovely. Lol

Joyful Days said...

Well in this case, I don't ever believe we are alone. God has promised never to leave or forsake us. And with various beliefs about our I don't think we are alone.

Is that literal for what the family member was asking...??? Don't know. But it was offered to comfort.

As a rule--lying, no, not a good, smart, healthy thing. Hard to remember the lie and stick to it. Then it becomes hard to remember the truth.

But as has been said alread--there are times when an omission may be a smart way to go. I now ask my dh if a color looks good on me vs. how does something make me look. Keeps us both happy. (I know the truth!!)

Sometimes the truth can cause unnecessary pain and it only is said for that effect. The best choice then is to not say anything...You know the addage, "If you can't say something nice..."

Today's thankful is that dh starts work tomorrow.

Stephanie said...

As a Christian, you wouldn't believe that they are really alone would you?

It is a slippery slope to qualify when lying is ok and when it isn't. Though I can't honestly say what I would do if I was the nurse in that situation.

Melanie said...

That is an interesting and VERY thoughtprovoking question...essentially lying (my opinion only) is wrong in all cases, but our human nature rationalizes it and so we all do it sometimes. For example I teach school and there are some kids that I just have to grin and say, "your child is a joy to teach" when I meet with the parents, but I really just wish they'd take a day off and give me a break :)

Anonymous said...

This question really makes you think! I am not sure I think it is okay to lie in this situation. I would say if I were the nurse I probably would have done the same thing. I agree with Stephanie...they weren't really alone anyway!

Again, along the lines of health care providers, I will say I am thankful for all the doctors and nurses who cared for my son while he was in NICU.

Nancy the Romancechick said...

I think there are different kinds of lies: the kind you tell to be kind (That hat isn't as hideous as that other person said or your loved one didn't suffer at the end.) and the kind you tell to get out of trouble (I don't know who broke your vase, Mommy or I don't know how those drugs got in my purse, Officer).

The latter is clearly wrong. The former, I think, is not only okay, but preferable to absolute truth.

My thankful for today is: My daughter, 17, and absolutely a wonderful girl who loves God and has a better head on her shoulders than her mother did at that age.

Indiana Amy said...

They weren't alone, God was there.

I think there are little things that are not going to matter besides saving someone from pain, like that, where it is ok. I am a truth teller though so I have issue with actually lyiing about anything.

I am thankful for my dog, Ellie, a beagle, who is lying next to me right now.

annb said...

I believe that what the senior nurse told the families was not a lie, but the truth. I believe that no one dies alone, even if there's not another living person in that room. I was present when my Dad died after being ill for almost six years. I was beside his bed, holding his hand and he sat straight up in bed - he had not done that in over a week - and looked beyond me as if seeing someone else! He then laid down and let out his last breath. I know by the look on his face and the peace that I could tell he experienced at that moment, that he saw someone/something that gave him peace and helped him to leave this life.
I don't think a lie is ever appropriate! If one lie is appropriate wouldn't that make all lies okay? One of the greatest character traits I believe a person can possess is integrity. And I believe a person of integrity is also honest and trust-worthy!
I'm thankful for the time that I spent with my Dad before his death. I'm thankful that I could be with him as he passed! It gave me a peace to know that he had been peaceful at the end.

Amy said...

Having just recently lost my father and knowing that none of us was there holding his hand when he passed I would have felt better at the time thinking that a nurse was right there with them, even if it wasn't the truth. I know he wasn't alone because he was a christian, but I can drive myself crazy with the wondering what my dad was thinking and did he know he was about to die and was it know, things like that. This is a really tough question Amy. I really don't know the right answer.

I am thankful that my father is no longer suffering and is with his Saviour.