Dealing with death

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Wed 13 May 2020 - posted by Patient & Family Services

You've received a heart-stopping call. Someone you love has died....

The shock floods over you in a tsunami, the grief is deep and unstoppable. The pain tears at every part of you; regret and sadness and disbelief wash wave after wave over you, and in that instant, you know that nothing will ever be the same again. You stumble through the next few hours in a haze; you lose track of time, days melt into days and the nights are unbearably long. And you wonder how everyone out there seems to be going about their normal lives, laughing, shopping, traffic flowing -  when your own world has changed forever.  

Once the news is out there, how would you like those around you to respond? How can they best support you?

As a friend or acquaintance of someone who is bereaved, your first instinct may be to avoid them, either out of embarrassment because you have no idea what to say, or because you think you will be disturbing them in their grief. We asked some of our counsellors for their advice.

1. Acknowledge what’s happening to them. If you don’t know what to say, saying just that, will be appreciated.  Ask “What can I do to help?”
2. Just being with somebody so they can feel your presence and support can be comforting. Sometimes there is nothing left to say and sharing silence can be very powerful.
3. Try not to jolly them along or say 'cheer up' or 'you'll get over it'. You have no idea how they are feeling, even if you, yourself, have experienced bereavement.
4. Don’t compare difficult situations you have come across in your own life or people you know. Everybody is different and will experience facing death and dying in different ways.
5. Some people will not want uninvited physical comfort and it may be a bit overwhelming. It's better to ask 'Would you like a hug? Would you like me to hold your hand'

If you're experiencing grief and would like some help, Cruse is a great place to start. And remember, there is always someone out there you can turn to. If your loved one was cared for by Willen Hospice, read more about the kind of support you can get from our team.

Our doctors and specialists have also recorded a series of podcasts on speaking to people about death and dying:

Podcast 1
Podcast 2
Podcast 3

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Dealing with death

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