It wasn’t the body that surprised me.
I’d heard there had been a death on our unit; someone from the local mortuary was on his way. No, what surprised me was that the door to room 110 was wide open. I could see right in there, see the body carelessly covered with a rumpled sheet.
I was a little offended. Show some respect! I couldn’t imagine any of our nurses treating a deceased patient this way. That door should be closed! And that sheet over his face – we never pull linens over anyone’s face! We courteously tuck the person in as if they were sleeping, plump the pillow, smooth the sheets, and close the door for privacy. Leaving him like that – a sheet thoughtlessly thrown over him, in full view of the nurses’ station – was disrespectful to the patient, to his family, and to visitors.
Some people might find it very unsettling, walking past the room and seeing someone like that.
Mind you, I didn’t really know who had died. No one had said to me, “Gosh, my patient in 110 passed today,” or “When the mortuary staff arrives, direct them to 110.” I just knew someone had died, somewhere on the unit.
But I didn’t trouble myself with the details. It was obvious, wasn’t it? I mean, you see a body lying motionless under a sheet, what else could it be, except a dead person?
Nobody would sleep like that, would they?
The answer, of course, is yes.
So the mortuary guy shows up.