Home / InspiringER Doctor Poignantly Explains Why He Checks the Facebook Pages of Patients He’s Lost

ER Doctor Poignantly Explains Why He Checks the Facebook Pages of Patients He’s Lost

Louis M Profeta Emergency Room Doctor Open Letter

Doctor checking his phone (Photo: wavebreakmedia via Shutterstock)

As an emergency room physician, Dr. Louis M. Profeta sees unforgettable scenes on a daily basis. Rather than keep these experiences to himself, he opts to share his stories through public speaking engagements and written work. In a recent open letter, Profeta poignantly gives the reasoning behind one of his most heartbreaking habits: checking his patients’ social media after they pass away.

In his Linkedin post, “I’ll Look at Your Facebook Profile Before I Tell Your Mother You’re Dead,” Profeta explains to his deceased patients how scrolling through their photos and skimming their posts “humanizes” them. This, he explains, makes it easier for him to come to terms with their untimely deaths and to not be angry on behalf of those they left behind.

“I check your Facebook page before I tell them you’re dead because it reminds me that I am talking about a person, someone they love—it quiets the voice in my head that is screaming at you right now . . . ‘how could you do this to them, to people you are supposed to love!'”

This practice also personalizes his patients by giving him insight into their relationships—an awareness that proves particularly important as he prepares to meet the devastated family members.

“I see your smile, how it should be, the color of eyes when they are filled with life, your time on the beach, blowing out candles, Christmas at Grandma’s; oh you have a Maltese, too. I see that,” he says. “I see you standing with your mom and dad in front of the sign to your college. Good, I’ll know exactly who they are when I walk into the room. It makes it that much easier for me, one less question I need to ask.”

You can find more of Profeta’s moving work on his website.

In his Linkedin post, “I’ll Look at Your Facebook Profile Before I Tell Your Mother You’re Dead,” emergency room doctor Louis M. Profeta, MD explains how he deals with death.  You can read the piece in its entirety below.

Louis M Profeta Emergency Room Doctor Open Letter

Photo: Louis M. Profeta via Linkedin

It kind of keeps me human. You see, I’m about to change their lives — your mom and dad, that is. In about five minutes, they will never be the same, they will never be happy again. Right now, to be honest, you’re just a nameless dead body that feels like a wet bag of newspapers that we have been pounding on, sticking IV lines and tubes and needles in, trying desperately to save you. There’s no motion, no life, nothing to tell me you once had dreams or aspirations. I owe it to them to learn just a bit about you before I go in.

Because right now . . . all I am is mad at you, for what you did to yourself and what you are about to do to them.

I know nothing about you. I owe it to your mom to peek inside of your once-living world.

Maybe you were texting instead of watching the road, or you were drunk when you should have Ubered. Perhaps you snorted heroin or Xanax for the first time or a line of coke, tried meth or popped a Vicodin at the campus party and did a couple shots. Maybe you just rode your bike without a helmet or didn’t heed your parents’ warning when they asked you not to hang out with that “friend,” or to be more cautious when coming to a four-way stop. Maybe you just gave up.

Maybe it was just your time, but chances are . . . it wasn’t.

So I pick up your faded picture of your driver’s license and click on my iPhone, flip to Facebook and search your name. Chances are we’ll have one mutual friend somewhere. I know a lot of people.

I see you wearing the same necklace and earrings that now sit in a specimen cup on the counter, the same ball cap or jacket that has been split open with trauma scissors and pulled under the backboard, the lining stained with blood. Looks like you were wearing it to the U2 concert. I heard it was great.

I see your smile, how it should be, the color of eyes when they are filled with life, your time on the beach, blowing out candles, Christmas at Grandma’s; oh you have a Maltese, too. I see that. I see you standing with your mom and dad in front of the sign to your college. Good, I’ll know exactly who they are when I walk into the room. It makes it that much easier for me, one less question I need to ask.

You’re kind of lucky that you don’t have to see it. Dad screaming your name over and over, mom pulling her hair out, curled up on the floor with her hand over her head as if she’s trying to protect herself from unseen blows.

I check your Facebook page before I tell them you’re dead because it reminds me that I am talking about a person, someone they love—it quiets the voice in my head that is screaming at you right now shouting: “You —, how could you do this to them, to people you are supposed to love!”

Louis M. Profeta: Website | Twitter | Linkedin
h/t: [Bored Panda]

Related Articles:

Photographer Captures Both Parents’ Heartbreaking Battle with Cancer at the Same Time

Daughter Is Surprised with Letter Every Birthday From Her Father Who Died 4 Years Ago

Man Creates Edible Water “Jelly Drops” to Help Dementia Patients Stay Hydrated

This Man’s Rare Blood Is Responsible for Saving the Lives of Over 2.4 Million Babies

Want to become a My Modern Met Member?

Find out how by becoming a Patron. Check out the exclusive rewards, here.

Sponsored Content