This is my other question, and you can find the background of this question there.

When my grandmother was admitted to hospital, we (the whole family in town) are taking turns staying at the hospital. However, my biggest fear is when her health is failing to critical condition, or even worse, dying, on my shift. I don't know how to break the bad news to everyone. Of course, I can just say "Please just go to hospital right now" or just stating the fact her health is failing and everyone need to be in hospital right now, but the problem is I'm a very "cold" person and may break the news without even sounding even a little concerned.

I just don't want them to take the wrong impression of me, so how to break the news correctly, without sounding like a cold person?

Note: It seems it's ironic that I wrote the answer in How to enquire about someone after they learned bad news? and then received the unfortunate side of the story. The answer show my cold, calculated approach when I'm faced with bad news, when in reality I wish I can be the one burst in tears when I'm faced with the death/dying close person.

I'm in Indonesia, so I'm mainly looking for answers considering Asian culture. The family has a strong Asian culture - so we're really close (though I'm not as much).


2 Answers 2


The following advice applies to just about any culture, but it is particularly good for an Asian culture because of its strong family orientation. (I am Asian American.)

Basically, you and others are "taking turns" watching over grandmother (if I understand the question correctly).

So just meet with the others (hopefully) beforehand and ask, "What should any of us say or do if grandmother dies on our watch?"

Older, wiser family members will have opinions on this. But by asking the question, you will have established the "protocols." You'll have your answer--ahead of time.

Kudos to you for thinking about this ahead of time.


This type of information, especially with family is best done face to face. If you are calling people to give them news then suggest they come to the hospital now.

If you give them the news first on the phone and they then have to drive it can be dangerous. Or if they take public transport then it can be extra stressful.

Hi. I think it would be best if you came to the hospital now.

I had to deliver that line to my brother over the phone on the death of our father. We both knew what it meant but it gave him the opportunity to delay his grief until he travelled and arrived at the hospital. At which point it was safe for us both to break down.

If you have to specifically deliver the news then you can say

I'm sorry, I have some sad news. Grandma passed away earlier today. I was with her at the time, she passed peacefully in her sleep.

In many hospitals or hospices there are members of staff who can support you through this process. They have done it many times themselves and will be sensitive

I'm based in the UK


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