Death – would you know what to say?
If you’ve experienced the death of a family member or a friend, it’s one of the most difficult events to deal with. Death can be sudden or the outcome of an illness but whatever has caused it, you’ll find yourself dealing with emotions you’ve never faced before. If you’ve gone through a bereavement then you’ll probably be familiar with this, unfortunately I’ve found that people can behave very strangely around death, I always think you have to accept that it has happened, it’s horrible for the bereaved person but giving them a little bit of support will help, even offering to pick something up from the shops for them.
Talk to them, especially after it’s happened, just a simple acknowledgement makes all the difference. I’ve heard stories of people who will cross the road just to avoid the bereaved which is completely shocking. You may not have experience of such an event but you can be there to listen and just listening is important. You don’t need to have the necessary counselling skills but here is one big phrase to avoid.
‘Oh, I know how you feel’/ – no you don’t, Even if you can relate to another’s bereavement, you do not know how they are feeling as their grief will be different to yours.
Or another common response when you’ve told someone of your recent loss, is that they will insist on telling you details of their bereavement from ages ago, denying you the right to express your grief.
When you do meet a friend or acquaintance who’s been recently bereaved then, stop say hello, acknowledge their loss and it’s alright to say, you don’t know what to say. Ask if they want to have a coffee and a chat, they’ll be pleased you’ve made the effort. If they do accept, just remember to listen, they’ll thank you for it and never forget that you may be in their shoes in the future but never ever cross the road to avoid them.