The Sneezing Dead

This week I found myself speaking on three separate occasions to groups of people about the mortuary. On Tuesday it was a very large group, Thursday only four people and then on Friday I stood in a lecture hall with about 15. I didn’t count the exact number of the group on Tuesday but I think it was probably over 30! Somehow I just take it all in my stride now, but I cannot help thinking of me at around ten years old stood in front of my class having to give a presentation on a poem or something and just bursting into tears before I could even say one word.

Talking to people about death and the mortuary seems to be the thing that stopped the shyness in me. I love the fact people always expect it to be grim, disgusting and a horrible experience. They never expect to find me grinning away saying how much I love my job either. The most interesting question of this week was whether or not the dead sneeze. I’ve been asked on many occasions if they sit up, wake up, move or groan (no, no, no, sometimes….) but I’ve never been asked if they sneeze. They don’t, in case you were wondering or misled by the title. Well, I’ve never seen or heard them anyway.

It has been one of the more interesting weeks I’ve ever had at the mortuary. We’ve had some very different and thought provoking things happening. A little caveat is worth mentioning here, I never really write any specifics to do with patients here. Or if I do it’s weeks after they have come through our doors and into our care. I’m very careful and aware of relatives tracing minute details back to patients and I would hate for someone to be able to do that.

Something very exciting that I will mention is that I found out I have been nominated for an award at work! Our hospital present Pride awards yearly and I have been nominated in the Collaborative Working category. I’m really excited to go along to the ceremony because when I first started the whole mortuary team went along but I couldn’t go as a new starter. They won the Best Team award that year so I’m hoping I can try and keep us an award winning team! Either way, it will be lovely to share an evening with people from across the hospital.

Our hospital PRIDE values

On Friday afternoon I was asked to go along to the End Of Life Care Champions study day and present a little bit about the mortuary before hosting an impromptu Death Cafe style event with them all. These are people from across the hospital who are trained and armed with the knowledge of best practice in end of life care. I often see sneak bits of what they are taught and I love the individualised care plans they use with little bits of info about the patient. It makes me think mine would have ‘please give me gin and play the entire My Chemical Romance back catalogue’, and no, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get tickets for any of their tour dates. I’m not okay about that (see what I did there….!).

My Chemical Romance will always be a huge deal to me while accepting they are not everyone’s cup of tea!

The Death Cafe went really well even though to start with everyone just looked at each other and stared. Then the discussion started and we went through topics such as giving away personal items before you die, funeral planning, scattering of ashes mishaps and the death practices of different cultures. There were two Irish people there and I just love talking to the Irish about death. It’s so matter of fact and accepted what will happen when someone dies and how it will play out. It always reminds me of that episode of Derry Girls where they go to the wake. If you haven’t watched any please go and watch them all now!

Still my favourite Derry Girls scene by far!

As I have a final push towards finishing my portfolio, I feel so close yet still so far away from getting it done, I have (what looks like) a fairly calm week ahead of me. Who knows what will actually happen!

MG x

4 thoughts on “The Sneezing Dead

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  1. Great read as always, if one of my patients ever sneezed whilst transferring to rose cottage I think I’d join them

    Bummer about the mcr tickets, ticketmaster was a joke that day

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wasn’t it just? I honestly tried so hard and have no idea how anyone managed it. Can’t be too upset when it’s not like I could really afford them at nearly £90 a ticket anyway.

      Thank you for your kind words! I can’t even imagine what I would do if I heard a sneeze from inside the fridge.


      1. I just had a bit of a poke around online, and it seems like the Health Minister recently tried to pass a law about an opt-out system, but it didn’t get through. Instead, they’ve decided to create a central register, which should be active by 2022. That might explain the current push for people to consider the topic and their choice – if more people are familiar with the idea of organ donation, then maybe more will sign the register once it’s ready?


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