Nurse Taphophile

I’m a nurse and a cemetery enthusiast!

Many nurses have hobbies to help reduce stress. Some run marathons, some play musical instruments. Some make wood furniture. A few of us visit cemeteries to enjoy the quiet and appreciate the history of the lives represented in the headstones. I can’t find any websites by other nurse taphophiles. Once in a while I see a post from another nurse on a taphophile page or website.

Yin and Yang?

-Nurses work to preserve health. I work with patients in a hospital setting with the goal of helping them to recover as much as possible so they can return home. As with most Critical Care nurses, I have witnessed unexpected deaths, and worked hard with the rest of the hospital team to bring the patient back to life. Of course, in some cases, our efforts could not stop death.

Other times, I simply try to be a supporting presence when the patient and family have agreed on a “no code” status. The role of a hospital nurse in this situation is something like the role of a hospice nurse. They provide what is called “comfort care”-keep the patient as comfortable as possible without trying to prolong life or slow the progression toward death. To clarify, a hospice nurse is not a nurse taphophile.

-Cemeteries help to preserve memories, providing a physical location for family and friends to visit to remember a life.

-Nurses are trained in recognizing and appreciating cross-cultural approaches to healing. With my patients, we have been able to accommodate placing religious items under their head during a procedure. We can give the patient a minute to recite a prayer. We have allowed family to bring religious items for display near the patient as long as they don’t interfere with medical care. Or found a way to accommodate a cultural practice to help the patient feel more comfortable.

-Many cemeteries accommodate different cultures and different faiths in burial practices. As you know, some cater to specific cultures/religions. A quick burial or cremation, certain items in/around the casket, etc.

Website links

We all know about military honor guards for funerals of active duty military deaths, and veterans. A nurse honor guard was a new concept for me as I conducted research for this website:

National Nurses Honor Guard Coalition > National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)

Nurses in Idaho created an ongoing “honor roll” list of the names of nurses that died:

In Memoriam – from Idaho

You may know about the memorial to military nurses at Arlington National Cemetery:

Nurses Memorial (

Books about death and dying written for nurses

The books below are samples of the selection available through my online bookstore affiliate with I receive a small fee for each book you purchase:

Books for nurses working with patients in hospice or near death –

Book description: Every encounter with death reminds us of our own ultimate fate; what each of us must one day confront and endure. Our experiences with the dying shape who we are and how we will live. Framed by Victor’s own near-death experience, You’re Not Dead ’til I Say You’re Dead explores the process of dying, the stages of grieving, and what may come next. Along the way, she addresses such rarely discussed yet heartbreaking topics as suicide, sudden infant death syndrome, and miscarriages. First-hand accounts take you into the minds and hearts of those who attend and care for the dead, the dying, and the grieving. Each story is told candidly with humor, irony, science, and, of course (spoiler alert), someone dying.

Use this link to purchase the book above: You’re Not Dead ’til I Say You’re Dead: A Nurse’s Reflections on Death, Dying and the Near-Death Experience a book by Joyce Victor Phd R (

Book description: Sharon White’s book helps normalize the dying process and take the unknown out of the hospice experience. Follow her helping others find comfort, effective pain control and a higher quality of life while at the same time honoring each patient’s individual processes. Learn how with hospice’s expertise their journey is made a little easier.

Use this link to purchase the book above: Whose Death Is It, Anyway?: A Hospice Nurse Remembers a book by Sharon White (

About the author – Cultures and Graves

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