She tells life-affirming stories about death.
A hospice nurse has become an unexpected star on TikTok, where she is speaking out about her heartwarming interactions with dying patients.
Penny Smith, 59, began sharing stories about her work at a Washington state hospice center two years ago and now boasts a whopping 432,000 followers.
Many of those viewers are heartened by Smith’s conviction that there is life after death — something she says she came to believe in after seeing the spiritual epiphanies experienced by patients in their dying days.
“I didn’t believe in the afterlife before I became a hospice nurse but I do now,” Smith explained in a recent interview with Need To Know. “The most profound thing is when a dying person tells you they are being visited by someone who has died [before them. This can happen when a person is completely lucid and clearly able to state who they are seeing.”
She added: “Seeing people visioning ‘spirits’ or whatever entity it is they see has affirmed a belief in me that there is something more — that helped me cope with my dad’s death myself.”
The hospice nurse vividly recalled one incident in which an elderly patient claimed he saw his wife “in the ceiling in the corner of the room.”
“He told me she was coming to get him ‘not today, but tomorrow.’” Sure enough, the man passed away the following day.
Smith — who has been working as a hospice nurse for 17 years — claimed she has listened as thousands of patients have told her their biggest regrets.
“Generally speaking, people [who are dying] talk about wishing they had worked less, spent more time with family, that sort of thing,” she said.
However, Smith added that she was most struck by one cancer patient’s confession, when he claimed he wished he had never undergone chemotherapy for his lung cancer. He died a short time later.
The hospice nurse doesn’t shy award from the difficulties of her job and said TV shows and movies can often make death look more glamorous and peaceful than it really is.
“Usually people’s eyes are open or partially open, sometimes eye color can appear to change, the jaw drops down with their mouth agape and the skin can become waxy appearing and grey or yellow,” she explained, saying loved ones are often not prepared for those moments.
“There are many aspects of the dying process that can be frightening to see happening in person,” the expert added.
Despite the hardships, Smith loves her job and is eager to share heartwarming moments with her TikTok followers.
The hospice nurse said she has had many touching moments with patients and their family members that will stay with her forever.
“My favorite was finally managing my 42-year-old lung cancer patient’s pain to the point where her young daughters and I could give her a bed bath and dress her in her favorite T-shirt and leopard print panties,” she emotionally stated. “It was such a special and meaningful experience for her girls and I.”
Smith isn’t the first hospice nurse to take to TikTok to share her stories. Another nurse named Julie has similarly gone viral by sharing her experiences in the profession, recently revealing the four most common regrets expressed by her dying patients.