The "someone's dead" phone call- asap or wait till morning?

Most of us have probably received one of these bad news calls at some point. It’s also standard for a lot of people to think “who died?” when a call wakes you up at night.

I recently received a very early morning call* about the death of a non-immediate family member, who’d been sick for awhile. I wasn’t close enough to any of the people involved to be needed as a source of comfort. I felt sad, but one of my first thoughts was that this news really could have waited until morning. After all, there was nothing I could do for the living or the dead. I waited until everyone else was awake to pass the news on. How would you feel about this, and how would you handle it?
*The call was placed by someone who wasn’t looking for sympathy, but was simply passing on the news, so they didn’t need comforting either.

If it’s information only, I think it can wait until normal hours.

The wake-up variety of call should only be used when it’s likely that I will have an actual role in what’s going on, and need as much notice as humanly possible. Will I need to travel? Help with the arrangements? Providing sympathy is fine too.

When my grandmother died in the middle of the night in a nursing home from pancreatic cancer (so, not unexpectedly), my mom called me right away. When my cousin’s daughter died by her own hand (very unexpectedly), I found out about it the next morning.

So, I guess in my family at least we sort of go by how close the relationship is.

It would depend. For immediate family I would want to know right away. For certain very close friends I would want to know right away. Just about anyone else, I can wait a day.

I would have felt like you did.

I think a wake-up call is justified for people who need to know right now because they’ll be expected to do something. If you wait until a more reasonable hour, you might not be able to reach them. They’ll need time to take care of work, child care, travel, etc.

But if someone calls at 4 a.m. and they’re distraught about a cousin that I never met, that’s okay too – they needed to talk to someone, and I’m glad to be there for them.

It depends. When my dad died, we called probably three or four people immediately (at about one in the morning). One was a friend of his who had come to visit only a few hours earlier, and the others were folks who specifically asked to know as soon as possible. Everyone else had to wait until the next morning.

If a family member of mine died, I’d want to know immediately, without a question. But if it was something like a third cousin’s sister’s dog-walker, then I could wait until morning.

Yup, they should have waited til morning. Though there have been times when I’ve awoken early and called someone without realizing the time.

Are they going to be any less dead in the morning than they are in the middle of the night? Then call in the morning and let me sleep.

Count me in the wait till morning, unless there is some reason why sooner notification is advantageous.

My grandmother died yesterday. Total shock–her health wasn’t good but there was nothing urgent going on. She had a stroke Tuesday and never recovered from it…

She died mid-afternoon, so I got a mid-day phone call telling me of the stroke, and a follow-up in the evening.

The “funny” part? Mom and her sister have been visiting their mother who was hospitalized (after a fall). So they had breakfast out, and were recognized. Today, they went to have breakfast out as a way of updating the waitress, etc. Waitress, etc. had heard on the radio that my grandmother had died. The “advantages” of living in a small town.

I’d prefer they waited until morning, unless it’s someone I was close to.

Years ago, my closest friend called me at 1am to tell me her father had died. I barely knew her father, but I dearly love her, and she was distraught. She apologised, in the middle of everything, for calling at that hour, but it didn’t matter one jot – she needed to reach out to someone.

I don’t mind when people call me to tell me of tragic news. I’d probably wait until well after dawn myself to pass on the info, only because I’m a person who tries not to be a nuisance to others. But if the news is major, I don’t think the timing really matters to the person at the other end.

I would only want a middle of the night phone call if it were someone I am close to, immediate family, close friend, or even a co-worker.

About 6 months ago I got a phone call at about 2 am. My first thought was that someone had died and sure enough when I answered the phone there was a sobbing hysterical woman that sounded just like my sister on the other end. She kept saying over and over, “Mom’s dead, mom’s dead, mom’s dead.” I was asking how and couldn’t get her to calm down and tell me what she was talking about. She was completely hysterical. Finally after about 3 or 4 minutes (which felt like hours!) she calmed down enough and said, “Is this Britainy?” NO! This is not Britainy!! She had the wrong number. :frowning:

Wait until morning.

When my dad died, my mom called the next morning. I was already at the office. It was not a pretty situation. If she’d called right away, my coworkers would have been spared that awkward moment, as would I.

On the other hand, one of my aunts was long buried before anyone in her immediate family bothered to inform the extended family - that seemed a bit much…

When it was my turn I waited until morning. I was a bit worried someone would fault me for not waking them, but nobody did (the death was not a big surprise, but the end of a long illness)

My maternal grandmother had a heart attack at about 11:30pm. My mother went over to her house to take her to the hospital (we lived on the same street), but it quickly became clear that she wouldn’t make it to the hospital nor did she want to leave. This let to my mother and brother (he & his wife lived with her) frantically calling every realtive in the area, and a minster in hopes that they could make it there in time to say goodbye. Both my uncles and a bunch of cousins somehow managed to make it so her house in minutes. Grandma died in her bedroom sitting in her wheelchair. Every second of that has been burned into my mind and 6 years later I can still remember where everybody was standing and what they wore.

I vote wait until morning unless there’s a compelling reason to call earlier.

For example, when my paternal grandfather died, my dad called his sister that night. My grandfather’s death was big news in his small town and social circle, so my dad didn’t want his sister finding out from someone else (e.g. “So when will you be coming to the funeral? Oh, you didn’t know? Ooops.”). He waited until the next morning to call my brothers and me. We had no compelling reason to be woken up in the middle of the night with bad news.

I’d much prefer to find out in the morning, especially if I’m going to be in any way involved in traveling to where the funeral is or if I’m local, planning and arranging the funeral. The only thing worse than dealing with all of that stuff is dealing with it on three hours’ worth of sleep.

If you’re informing me that someone I know has died, it can usually wait until morning.

If you’re a friend and someone close to you has died and you need moral support, I’ll be there for you.

If someone about whom I care is dying, I definitely want to know immediately: I want to say goodbye.

If a member of my immediate family has died, I’m probably better off not knowing until morning.

My mum had called my step-dad’s mum and dad, and my brothers within hours of my step-dad’s death.

I think every one of them would have prefered to know that night than the following morning. My older brothers’ speed of getting over here at short notice was a great help. I wanted the company of people more emotionally stable than my mum and myself at that sad time.