Being in a hospital is hard, for both a patient and the one who visits.
It is the hardest in the waiting room, awaiting news, or when unable to see the patient, someone you care for.
Therefore here is my thoughts on…
Hospital Waiting Room Etiquette
1) Always call ahead. If the immediate family could be too emotional to talk, call someone who is there also, or has already visited, such as extended family or friends, to check if it is appropriate time to go.
2) Once you are there, use common sense to asses the mood of the people in the room. Avoid asking the immediate family about the condition of the patient, unless you know they are getting better. If you really need to know, check with someone from the extended family or friends.
3) If using the phone while in the waiting room,whisper and end the conversation quickly. If not, move out of earshot of the people in the room.
4) Do not work in the waiting room, on the laptop nor on the phone. If the work is too important, it is better not to go to the hospital at all.
5) DO NOT (and this is the biggest one) have idle conversations with others in the waiting room about your kids, weddings, cats or other insignificant and irrelevant topics. It is disrespectful. If someone else initiates one with you, reply curtly and pointedly to let him or her know that you are not interested in talking while there. If you are religious, pray, or read the holy book. If not, respectful silence is a great option.
6) If you are hungry and have been there a while, excuse yourself, eat and come back. Anything more that a cup of tea/coffee and a biscuit is just too much in the waiting room.
7) Give the immediate family ‘space’. Space to grieve, to hope, to think, to get a handle on their emotions. If you do not know them personally, or think you could say or do something that would help, keep a respectful distance and speak as quite as possible.
8) Unless you feel you being there could offer emotional support to the members of the immediate family, try to keep the visit brief. Let them know they are in your thoughts/prayers and leave quietly.