You ever have to tell someone that their loved-one is dead?

Yes, but it’s only recently that med schools have realized that it’s something that should be taught. My step-mother is a nurse and teaches what amounts to a “How to have good beside manner” course at a local college. One thing she teaches is how to tell someone bad news.

About a week ago, I had to tell my son that his great grandmother (who loved him to pieces and whom he had spent all of his 10 years on this earth surrounded by) had passed.

It was not unexpected as she’d been in the hospital since December, but it was without doubt the most painful moment of my career as a mom.

To make things worse, we watched a David Blaine video last night that I figured would just be a video about card tricks and eating quarters.

In addition to these tricks, Mr. Blaine decided to bring a pigeon and a fly “back to life”. :smack:

Not even a full minute later, Tyler turned to me and said, “Maybe I can be a magician, mom. And when I get as good as he is, maybe I can bring Gramma Louise back…”

It was everything that I could do not to break apart right there. :frowning:

Fair enough.

When my grandfather passed away I had to tell my aunt, her father, that he had passed away. She was on her way from Louisana to Ohio. She was trying to get here as fast as she could so she could say good bye but she did not make it on time. He passed 8 hours before she got here.

I had to tell my now ex husband that his uncle had died. I don’t know why I was looking at the obituaries that day but I saw the last name and it is very uncommon. I called him at work to ask if he thought he was related. He then had to call his sister. For some reason nobody in the family had contacted either of them. The uncle was his fathers brother. His father had died just a couple of months before.

About a month ago I had to tell my mother and my kids that one of our old friends had passed away. He used to babysit my kids when they were younger. We had not seen him in a long time we had no idea he was even sick.

When I was stationed at NAVSTA Philly, one of my duties was Assistant Casualtiy Assistance Coordinator. (ACACO) The CACO and ACACO had to coordinate the notifications of the NOK for all deceased service menbers in a large multi-state region. It was a very stressful and unpleasant duty, one I was glad to leave behind.

I’ve also served as POIC (NCOIC) of several funeral honor guard details. One of the duties of that position if to deliver the flag to the NOK of the decesased, and express the nation’s condolances to the widow/widower. That can also be a very stressful duty, depending on the widow’s/widower’s composure. Even when they’re strongly self-controlled, it’s still a duty that chokes you up.

Fortunately for my peace of mind, I avoided body escort detail - That’s where a service member escorts the body home to their family. Of all the details, I think that one may be amongst the most difficult, surpassed only by initial notification.

As a cancer doc, I have to do this on an occasional basis. Never easy, even with years of experience.

The harder job (IMHO) is to tell a patient’s family that everything that you’ve tried or can think to try has failed, and that the patient will die in the near future because we’ve reached the end of what medical science has to offer. In that vein, the hardest one was to tell my patient’s son on the phone that he needed to get back home from university in another country because his only remaining parent was dying. Broke the rule on not saying over the phone, but what else could I do, given the distance?

Either during or shortly after college, I had to tell my (then) best friend that someone she’d been extremely close to in high school had died. My mother had heard an announcement at her church and recognized the name, and the next time she saw me she said, “Hey, do you remember Linda M.?” I knew that I had to call my friend immediately. It was a hard phone call to make, but I believe in not beating around the bush (and my friend and I knew it was the best way to deliver bad news to each other): I just prefaced it with “I have some very bad news,” and then when she was ready I said, “Linda M. died.” That same friend had to return the favor in 1998, when she called to let me know that an ex-boyfriend of mine had overdosed.

I thought I was going to have to tell my father that his mother had died, but when I called him he already knew (thank goodness).

I told my MIL that my wife (her daughter) had died. Absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Totally unexpected - she was 28 and had died in a freak horseback riding accident.

And it was a good two days later - I was outof town when it happened and nobody knew how to reach me… or any of my wife’s family either.

I’ve only had to do that once. I was an intern, and took care of a fair number of elderly patients who rarely improved enough to be discharged. One man, who had had several bad strokes, couldn’t speak but his wife was good at making out what he tried to say. She was really helpful letting me know when something was bothering him, so we got to know each other.

He died around eleven at night, and the attending doc who was on call had never seen the patient or spoken to the family before. I told him, “I know his wife, we’ve talked a few times, so why don’t I call her?” He told me to go ahead.

So I called her and just said, “Mrs. A, this is Doctor B from the hospital. Are you awake? Are you sitting down?” She was. “He’s gone, Mrs. A. He just slipped away a little while ago, in his sleep.”

She was quiet for a minute, then said, “I don’t think I want to see him there, at the hospital. I’ll call Blank’s Funeral Home and meet him there. Thank you all for everything.” I didn’t see her again afterward, but she sent flowers and a letter to the hospital unit.

So, nothing sudden or dramatic, just the closing of a long life’s story.

When my mother died (it was expected), the immediate family was there at the bedside. After her last breath, I reached for her nose, announced that I didn’t feel any air; felt for a pulse in a couple of locations, said that I didn’t feel a pulse, either, and the time on my watch was 6:55 PM. It went on her certificate that way, too.

As far as informing anyone, I had the task an hour later of going through her address book and passing the word to the extended family and friends that she died.

Mr. S and I were having lunch at the diner and reading the paper. I glanced over the names in the obit section as I always do (though we hadn’t lived in that city for a while, sometimes when I read the local paper I saw a familiar name, an old teacher or something). There was the name of a very dear friend of a friend of mine. His wife had died a few years ago and they had a teenage daughter, who was now orphaned. I knew that my friend would likely not have seen the paper and might very well not know about it at all. So after lunch we drove to her house. Only her own teenage daughter was home, so we told the daughter and she got to tell her mom. At least they were able to attend the funeral, for which they were grateful. Without us they never would have known until much later.

This coming July 11 will be the two year anniversary of my wife’s death at age 38 from pneumonia. It’s a long story, but we didn’t even know she was sick. She had taken some medication that sometimes made her lethargic and we regularly checked on her. My older daughter had checked on her most recently, and called me up because her lips looked blue. I had my daughter go in the other room with her sister and call 911 while I tried to resusitate her. The ambulance came, took her to the hospital, but I knew she was gone. Once the doc at the hospital made it official, I broke it to my children. Two daughters aged 13 and 17 at the time, and a son, age 20.

I also had to tell my inlaws that their only child was dead.

E3

About two years ago, I had to tell my mother that her sister, my aunt, had committed suicide. It was one of the most awful moments of my life. She let out this long, whimpering wail that still chills my blood when I think of it.

In January, I had to tell to my entire extended family that my mentally ill step father, whom the entire family was close to, had decided to admit himself to hospital but when got there, decided to go home. He hung himself.

I had to break to news to both my mother and my brother that my baby sister had committed suicide. My sister was overseas at the time, so I was notified by phone, and then had to track down my mom on a road trip and call my brother, who lives out of state. I’m decidedly non-religious, but I still find myself praying that I’ll never again be in a position to inform a mother of her child’s death.

This coming July 11 will be the two year anniversary of my wife’s death at age 38 from pneumonia. It’s a long story, but we didn’t even know she was sick. She had taken some medication that sometimes made her lethargic and we regularly checked on her. My older daughter had checked on her most recently, and called me up because her lips looked blue. I had my daughter go in the other room with her sister and call 911 while I tried to resusitate her. The ambulance came, took her to the hospital, but I knew she was gone. Once the doc at the hospital made it official, I broke it to my children. Two daughters aged 13 and 17 at the time, and a son, age 20.

I also had to tell my inlaws that their only child was dead.

E3

Stationed in Fort Hamilton NYC. Every 40 days your name comes up for Notifiction duty. No trainiing, no instructions, you just do it.

I briefly held the record of 11 in one day. The next day, there was 12. Some New York unit was getting chewed up in what we later figured was Hamburger Hill.

When you walk down the street in a residential neighborhood, the whole street kind of goes quiet. By that time in the war everybody knows what a company grade officer is doing in the neighborhood. The big high rises were the worst because you can almost hear the breathing stop floor by floor and resume when your elevator passes.

Fortunately, when you knock on the door they know what you are doing there. You mutter something about the Gvt regrets to inform you and a casualy officer will be in touch within 24 hours, and you jump in the car and head for the next address.

What bothered me was you know that you are witnessing an irrevocable change in whole family’s life. No matter what, it will never be the same as what it was before you knocked on the door. The grieving process has just begun and each person will work out their own method of grieving, but the loss itself will never go away.

Ran a Graves Registration Point for 6 Mo. in 1968. Very quite area, no combat casualties. There you figured each death was just bad luck and that was that, but NYC taught me the repercussions for the survivors.

Thanks for bringing it up.

:frowning: :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: :frowning:

I called my brother and mom and let them know my father had died. It pretty much went like this:

“Mom/Brother? Hi. It’s me. Um… Dad died last night”

This much has changed… The service now tries very hard to give Notifications Officers training when assigned this duty, and Chaplain support when they make the call. It doens’t always work as it should, but it’s much more rare now for a notification to be made without moral support for the family and the Notification Officer.

Still, it’s the crappiest duty there is, IMO.

That’s the way I’d like to be told. Any time someone I know has died, and someone came to tell me, they’d walk up, looking terribly sad, and say some crap like, “Honey, you need to be brave, there’s something I have to tell you, why don’t you sit down” etc. You figure out right away that someone has died, your mind is running through all the possibilities, and you just want to scream, “Who is it! Who is it!”