1. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    How do you say, "He died?"

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by writewizard, Mar 19, 2010.

    So in my book, one of the characters is going to die in the hospital. The problem is I don't know how to break the news to his brother (their parents weren't there at the time, just the social worker, as the parent's custody was revoked).

    How would this work legally? Would he be allowed to tell Nick? Would he [the doctor] be allowed to say anything, or would he just be allowed to tell the social worker?

    Any opinons are great.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first of all, where and when is this taking place?... is it contemporary and in the us?... or some other time/place?

    much other info is needed before answers can be given...

    what is nick's connection to the deceased and how old is he?
    is he there in the hospital?
    if so, why?
    how old is the dead child?
    why is the social worker there and not the foster parent/s, or whoever's been caring for the child?
    what did the patient die of?
    would the police be involved?
     
  3. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    All great questions, thanks, :)
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in that case, the doctor would most likely tell the brother, if he's in the waiting room...

    and it's not a matter of 'being allowed'... who, after all, would be there to stop him telling this or that person?...

    it's just a matter of normal practice, to tell the next of kin, or the person/s who brought him to the hospital, that the patient has died...
     
  5. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    Thank you, just wanted to check on the legalities of it all. :D
     
  6. ToxicWaste
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    ToxicWaste Member

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    The doctor might take the parents aside and say "I'm sorry... so and so just past away."
     
  7. LastTrainHome
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    The actual breaking of the news would be done in a gradual way. The doctor would probably start by saying that there is bad news and that they have done everything and that they can but there has been complications and unfortunatly the patient has passed away. The idea is to allow the person being told to realise the worst without it actually being confirmed to allow them to get used to the idea before being told. It isn't however dragged out in an unesecery way.
     
  8. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Try developing the doctor as a minor character. I don't mean to send him on a long character development arc, but rather get a clear image of his personality in your mind. Not every doctor would break the news the same way; some might address it immediately, giving the hard truth, while others will slowly build into it, trying to stall as long as possible. Other alternatives exist, too: maybe the doctor is shy and antisocial and sends someone else to do the talking. Once you envision the doctor as a real character instead of just a flat, faceless stock character, his reactions will become much easier to imagine, and much more realistic.
     
  9. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't hold too hard to that concept. The manner in which a medical professional would relate such news would be dependant solely on the personality of the doctor and the severity and/or type of injury or illness. An illness would, by its very nature, fall into a different realm than an injury accident. (Which would seem to be the case in your scenario since the brother is at the hospital and in a waiting room rather than at a bedside.)

    As far as the legal aspects, there are few states, even with the relatively new HIPAA laws (which would not apply in the case of death), that regulate such things as to whom a doctor may reveal such information. In all likelihood, the doctor would have no qualms about telling whoever may have brought the deceased into the ER. In the case of a sibling, especially a minor, the doctor may inquire as to the parents and/or guardian or other relatives but would, in the absence of any other family member be just as likely to tell the present sibling. ER/Trauma doctors and staff often do double duty as social workers in such cases and, while getting a minor sibling into the 'care' and guidance of a hospital Social Worker, would likely be trying to determine if there is someone to call to be with them. If, however, the sibling is VERY much younger (under the age of 16 or 13) the doctor would probably leave the revelation to the hospital Social Worker or Chaplain.

    As you can see, there are many scenarios for such a situation and any one of them would work in a given circumstance. It just depends on your own circumstance and what would or would not work in your particular scenario. For a real, accurate, idea of what would or would not work in your story, talk to a case worker at one of your local hospitals. That would be the best source and might even be a catalyst for other ideas.

    Also, as far as the parents' custody being revoked: There is a big difference between parental custody being taken away and a parent's rights to information about a child's welfare and well-being. Even if the parents lost custody they would need to be expeditiously advised of a child's passing. This, depending on particular state laws, would come from the child's guardian or a court appointed Guardian ad Litem (an attorney appointed by the court to act as a minor child's representative in all Court procedures). There are so many nuances and fine points in family law matters and they continue to change as our awareness of family matters change. (Perhaps that is why they refer to doctors and lawyers as 'practicing'. There is always some new twist in their field of expertise.) Attorneys, in fact, are required to attend a certain number of hours of training/education each year in order to retain their status as a member of the bar. Medical practitioners have similar, though perhaps not so stringently controlled, requirements, which is why you will hear or read of a doctor going to, or speaking at, a medical seminar or conference.)

    *sigh* There just really are no simple answers.
     
  10. Azihayya
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    Azihayya Banned

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    here are a few statements I came up with

    dervish axlavoo (he died what a wonder)

    borishafar (his resting spirit will float to heaven)

    that guys is called original, lol not
     
  11. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    How about in the Obits. That's probably the most depressing way for a borther to find out haha.
     
  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    In terms of the actual words, it would greatly depend on who is saying it, how well they know each other, and what the person recieving the information can handle. It also depends on the personality of the character.
     
  13. Rawne
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    Rawne Member

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    Agree completely. Definitely a more natural solution. If you build a character, you'll know exactly how the doctor would break the news.
     
  14. KurtistheTurtle
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    My answer might seem like a little BS, but you gotta feel it. If your best friend died and you were the only one who knew (really, think it and feel it), how would you tell their parents? your other friends? When somebody has passed away, the people around them probably won't accept it at first (unless that kind of thing happens a lot). Use details and show the others' descent into the unreality which accompanies news of death.

    You can build it up with suspense or use it as punctuation.
     
  15. Lankin
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    I can only refer to German law here.
    Of course the doctor may tell him, even the parents, whether their custody was revoced or not.
    This circumstance is only of importance in terms of how much he may tell. (Exact cause of death, medication etc, some implications maybe if the character didn't die of a natural cause.)

    Nick is only / already sixteen. This depends on the point of view. The doctor would probably treat him like an adult, telling him frankly but not too much in detail what happened and see what questions (if any) Nick has.

    If it helps, I asked a doctor once the exact same thing.
    He told me he mostly took the relative to some quiet corner, sat down himself, asking the relative to sit beside him and broke the news to him relatively bluntly, like "You know, I have to tell you .... "
    He said that every attempt to soften it up, he feels, is inappropriate. Example:
    Doctor: "I am so sorry."
    Relative thinking: 'What the hell are you sorry for, did you murder him?'
    or 'How can you be sorry? You are a professional, you do not even know me!'

    Doctor: "I really know what you have been going through lately..."
    Relative thinking: "You really got no idea."

    Hope that helps a bit.
     
  16. Eternity
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    Any way that feels natural.

    A suggestion.....
    (I've called the doctor Felix and the deceased brother Cameron, for easy reference)

    The ER had been a swarm of activity and life for the last hour. Now he stood in the hallway, in the aftermath of the havoc, and felt his heartbeat slowly returning to normal. Sadness took his breath away for a brief moment as he looked at the other brother, hunched in his seat, a hopeless, unshaven young man looking painfully out of place in the hospital surroundings.

    Felix stood for a full minute or two, simply staring at Nick and grasping for the right words in his mental dictionary. They just wouldn't come. Somehow he knew they wouldn't need to, when Nick suddenly looked up and met his gaze. They held each other's stare for a split second, and then Nick stood up. He took a step towards Felix, and the doctor would've thought, if he hadn't known better, that Nick was in a drunken stupor.

    "So, that's it?"

    And then Felix saw the little boy inside of Nick. The inner child that every man tries to hide in his attempt to be strong. The tears began falling, and Nick's voice cracked. Felix sighed. He had nothing to say. Instead, he just put his hand on Nick's shoulder and let the lad sob his pain away.


    Really, this suggestion is as good as rubbish, because I don't know your characters, the genre or plot, or the given situation. So again as I said at the start... just go with what feels natural. It will flow. Don't try to make the writing flow, or "sound right" - just start typing and the story will start to flow and sound right on its own. Good luck! :)
     

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