Telling others about your loved one’s passing isn’t an easy task. People have a variety of ways they accept news, and we express grief and sadness in different ways.
Not only is the death of a loved one difficult on you, but passing on this difficult piece of information to other family members and friends can pose some challenges.Sometimes you may be faced with having not talked to the person before, or in a very long time. You may be afraid of saying the wrong thing or not being able to be ‘strong enough’ to help them with their grief. This is particularly true if the response to the loss brings up strong emotions. Some people may respond with shock, and you could feel that every person you tell makes it more real and painful.
Telling others about your loved one’s passing
The news can be shocking to some, so deliver the news in a relaxed environment. This may mean taking a child out of class to meet in a quieter area, leaving a workspace or other public area. Telling them face to face, rather than over the phone, is preferred, if possible.
Not only should the physical environment be calmer, but they should be in a calm state of mind. Tell them to take a breath and that you have some important news. Encourage them to be in a safe space and make sure they can hear and listen to you. Practice what you are going to say, even creating a script if needed, to help yourself be in a more calm state of mind as well.
Speak clearly and sincerely. Be as open as possible and understand that they may have questions, may need silence or may express emotion. Some people may want physical contact, such as a touch on the hand or arm or even a hug, and others may pull back and away. Ask what they need at the moment to receive comfort. If you are uncomfortable disclosing answers to questions, reply with, “I’m not ready to talk about that” or “I’m not comfortable talking about that”.
The best way to deliver the news is by first showing them that you care and offering support. It may also mean that you ask for support from others. If making phone calls to lots of people, ask for help. Some people will automatically ask how they can help, and if they do, let them. One woman asked people in different circles of her husband’s influence to call the others- for example; she called one person from church, another from his work and a family member. Each person acted then as a phone tree calling others from that area. This reduced the amount of time she had to tell people and limited the awkwardness for her of contacting people she didn’t know well but who her husband did.
Create an environment free of judgment or criticism. Listen with compassion to the person’s emotions and feelings without trying to change how they are being.
Sometimes when we think we are offering comfort, we say things that minimize their feelings, so if in doubt, silence is a good idea. Remember compassion will be given to you as well as sharing in the grief. Sometimes at the news, or even after during services or gatherings, they may want to talk about their loss, the events or details surrounding it and stories of the deceased. This is a typical response to loss and is ok. Being patient and allowing this will help them accept the loss and work through the grief. Validate, rather than compare their emotions to others. Share feelings of your personal experiences of loss and be aware to avoid unsolicited advice or criticism as those can be very harmful.
Fairmount offers the support of Family Care Providers who help you with the entire process of preparing for and conducting a life honoring service for your loved one. They will meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for like we have been doing for Denver families since 1890. Give us a call today to meet with one of our Providers or ask any questions you have at 303-399-0692.