Breaking bad news to others is never easy. Informing someone that someone close to them has passed away is even worse. In efforts to help you make it through this conversation Here are 3 Things to Keep in Mind When Delivering News That Someone Has Died:
1.Check Your Facts
The first thing that you want to do before informing anyone of a death is to CHECK YOUR FACTS. By any and all means necessary you want to do your best to confirm that a death has indeed taken place. If possible gather as much information as you can without pressing or invading the privacy of the deceased and the family/ closest loved ones and be sure that your information is accurate and reliable. This may be hard to do especially if someone has just died but trust me, once the dust settles and the tears have dried your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
2.Be Aware of the Environment
“There is a time and place for everything”. Truer words have never been spoken. It is so important to keep this in mind when sharing the news of someone’s passing. While it is important to be upfront and honest with the recipient of the news it is also necessary to make sure that they are in a place where they are safe and if at all possible can be supported by someone else. Avoid giving bad news of any kind to someone who is in a situation where their response could potentially cause them physical harm or put them in any kind of danger.
3.Be Prepared for Every and Any Reaction
Grief is expressed in innumerable ways unique to each and every one of us. Most often, we are shocked at the news of someone close to us passing away; even when the death was expected. Expression of emotion displayed when learning of a death can range anywhere from uncontrollable tears to fits of rage. When informing someone that their loved one or someone close to them has died it is vital that you are mentally, emotionally and yes even physically prepared for any possible reaction. It is also of great importance that you, the bearer of bad news) not take any reaction personal. Do your best to be of comfort and support to the person or persons receiving the news while understanding that regardless of their reaction… nothing is directed at you.
Refrain from Posting Personal Details on Social Media
We live in the age of social media. We receive our news, life event updates and just about everything else from a variety of online sources. Unfortunately, in many cases this also includes notifications of death. How many times have you seen BREAKING NEWS concerning the death of a celebrity or public figure pop up in your notifications on Facebook or Twitter?
Have you ever noticed that in each and every press conference or confirmation of death from the families’ representative they ask for the same thing? That thing being “respect for the family’s privacy during this difficult time”. It is my personal belief that this is done to give the family enough time to find out exactly what has happened, inform key individuals and to keep personal details and information that may be detrimental to the reputation of the deceased private or to stay ahead of their release to the public. I also believe that this same courtesy should be given to each and every family.
3Sharing too many details online can lead to unnecessary conflict and a number of other issues that can be avoided by practicing the art of discretion. Even if you have privy to all of the details surrounding someone’s death please, please, please refrain from sharing them on social media. The simple fact is that if the family (in this case I am referring to the next of kin) wants those details released; in their own time and in their own way they will release them.
Joél Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is dedicated to eliminating misconceptions about post-life preparation while stimulating an open, honest and straight forward discussion about death. You can submit your comments, questions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our contact page.