I am a public defender in a semi-rural circuit in Georgia. I am in front of the same 3 judges all the time. One of them is in ICU and will be there for several days. He is pretty ill, and while his situation is grave at the moment, I understand that his doctors are cautiously optimistic. There are no non-family visitors allowed in ICU.
I knew him for several years before he became a judge, when he was a defense attorney in the same circuit that I practice in, and I had a really hard time remembering not to call him by his first name after he became a judge. His daughter interned in our office a couple of summers ago. I have met his wife and have seen her on occasions like the annual Bar Xmas party. I don’t know that she would recognize me on the street, though.
So, my question- would it be completely tacky for me to go to the hospital to see his family while he’s still in ICU? I know that his family is insanely worried about him, and they probably don’t want to be bothered with a bunch of people that they don’t know well, but I want them to know that I’m concerned about him and that I’m thinking about them. Or should I just wait 'til he’s out of ICU and go then?
It would be OK to go as long as you understand you most liekly will not be allowed to visit your friend (and you keep any visit short). Visits from friends during stressful times can be very comforting to the family, who will tell the friend you stopped by, hopefully making him feel good, too.
No flowers or fruit baskets etc., are allowed in the ICU, but family can take them home if you feel so inclined (but not required).
I can’t imagine that dropping by to express support for the family of a colleague would be considered tacky - if you show up at an obviously bad time you can always come back later. Bring a card or some flowers for them, something to cheer them up. If I were in their situation I’d be very happy to have people come by.
it would be very thoughtful of you to stop by for a few minutes to provide some encouragement to his family. Bring them something to snack on (if you know what they might like). Vending machine and hospital food aren’t the greatest. Maybe you could offer to go out and grab them something to eat while you’re at it.