How to tell a person his loved one is dead?

by Kim
(Santa Rosa, Ca USA)

My brother in law was giving his 9 year old granddaughter a ride on his Harley Davidson motorcycle 20 days ago. An 89 year old woman turned into them and caused a horrific crash. The girl died very shortly afterward.

My brother in law's legs were crushed and he has had multiple surgeries and finally an amputation because they couldn't save his leg. He does not know about his granddaughter yet. He has been on massive amounts of pain killers and really hasn't been coherent until the last couple of days.

The doctors are taking him off the morphine IV and starting him on pain medication by mouth today. Today he asked where his daughter and granddaughter were and his wife ignored his question and changed the subject.

His wife knows she must break the news soon but she doesn't want to have to keep telling him what happened over and over but since he's been so drugged his memory isn't great day to day or even hour to hour.

We know that we have to tell him soon, we're just worried that this horrible news is going to really set him back and make him seriously depressed. He may have depression anyway, because of his loss of leg.

Any advice?

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Jun 06, 2009
It is never easy
by: shelwoy

I am firm in believing that telling him ASAP is the right thing to do. Due to the nature of this incident, there is more than one victim and not allowing him to grieve immediately could cause more psychological damage down the road. Loss is never easy, and that of a child even harder. Prepare to have him work with a therapist/psychiatrist who has vast experience with this type of situation immediately.

Jul 21, 2009
Death is never an easy subject to deal with
by: Matarina

I agree with the other comment that it is better to tell the person ASAP. Let them grieve at once. I realise you said his memory isn't too great but subconsciously he will understand that she is dead.

I am an African and we have a remarkable reaction every time some one loses a loved one, it is uncanny. Nobody wants to tell you that a loved one is dead, so they come and say the person is very ill. Somehow or the other, the bereaved person realises that their loved one is not just very ill, but dead and they are caught between the uncertainty and the hope that the person is indeed just ill and will get better. I think it is just too cruel.

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