I walk into a patient's room, and he's sitting in the chair, slumped over, while his wife reads a magazine.
"He's just sleeping, right?"
"Oh, I don't know -- you're the doctor."
Probably not the best question for me to ask. But, also, if you don't know if your loved one is sleeping or dead, perhaps you should check that instead of continuing to read a magazine. In case you need some help telling the difference:
Is he moving? Yes? Sleeping. No? Maybe sleeping.
Does he respond when you call his name? Yes? Not dead. No? Could go either way.
Is he breathing? Yes? Sleeping. No? Dead.
Is his body cold to the touch? No? Probably sleeping. Yes? Probably dead.
Are his limbs stiff? No? Probably sleeping. Yes? Probably dead.
Does he smell funny? No? Probably sleeping. Yes? Could be either.
Has someone already declared him dead? No? Might be sleeping. Yes? Almost certainly dead.
Is there a coroner in the room? Yes? Probably dead.
Is someone asking him to fill out tomorrow's dinner menu? Yes? Could be either sleeping or dead.