Monday, 15 February 2010

Thought for the week -compassion costs nothing

I promise I'll move on from death after this post. But in my no fritter and therefore no spending world I'm currently living in I can explore other things other than the shops. Although I do have to go and check out new stock next week.

Also it was with a sense of utter disbelieve that I read this article.
What a load of rubbish and anecdotal evidence, it read like a page filler. I'm sure McQueen has mentioned on many an occasion about hating fashion, that is perfectly normal when you work in any industry. What teacher, doctor, lawyer to name a few hasn't uttered the same thing about their professions.

Then the constant drawing upon his drug abuse, blah, blah. Basically I don't think anyone can know how grief will hit them. Any view on the why is speculation, grief was the cause and it manifests itself in many ways.

Equally, I realised that I had no idea what to do when someone losses someone they love. Of course I've lost family and friends but in the main this has been elderly relatives. I haven't lost a husband, mother, child, father, wife, sibling etc. The immediacy of these relationships have a devastating effect. When my grandpa died I lay in bed for 2 days in a darken room far from home at university. I travelled home and found everyone had been paralysed in some way by his loss. I set about finalising the funeral arrangements, signing the death certificate and sat waiting on the wall of my grandparents house for the funeral car on the day of his funeral. I also stayed with my grandma for a week afterwards. But I was free, with no responsibilities no children, mortgage, or job - how would I find the time or mange now? I really don't know. What would anyone be able to do for me if I was in Lee McQueen's shoes. As my dad says you never get over losing your mother.

I found some useful advice on how to listen and this forms the basis of my post. Listening and being there are two important factors in helping with grief and loss, but I also think we can add doing practical things like, washing, preparing food, cleaning the house, shopping - in fact all manner of things. I'm not suggesting for a moment one can prevent an overwhelming response to grief but I do think we can step back from the day to day and take time out for friends or family to help them in times of distress. The bereaved need to feel that their loss is acknowledged, it’s not too terrible to talk about, and their loved one won’t be forgotten.

While you should never try to force someone to open up, it’s important to let the bereaved know they have permission to talk about the loss. Talk candidly about the person who died and don’t steer away from the subject if the deceased’s name comes up. When it seems appropriate, ask sensitive questions – without being nosy – that invite the grieving person to openly express his or her feelings. Try simply asking, “Do you feel like talking?”

  • Accept and acknowledge all feelings. Let the grieving person know that it’s okay to cry in front of you, to get angry, or to break down. Don’t try to reason with them over how they should or shouldn’t feel. The bereaved should feel free to express their feelings, without fear of judgment, argument, or criticism.

  • Be willing to sit in silence. Don’t press if the grieving person doesn’t feel like talking. You can offer comfort and support with your silent presence. If you can’t think of something to say, just offer eye contact, a squeeze of the hand, or a reassuring hug.

  • Let the bereaved talk about how their loved one died. People who are grieving may need to tell the story over and over again, sometimes in minute detail. Be patient. Repeating the story is a way of processing and accepting the death. With each retelling, the pain lessens.

  • Offer comfort and reassurance without minimizing the loss. Tell the bereaved that what they’re feeling is okay. If you’ve gone through a similar loss, share your own experience if you think it would help. However, don’t give unsolicited advice, claim to “know” what the person is feeling, or compare your grief to theirs.

Comments to avoid when comforting the bereaved

  • "I know how you feel." One can never know how another may feel. You could, instead, ask your friend to tell you how he or she feels.
  • "It's part of God's plan." This phrase can make people angry and they often respond with, "What plan? Nobody told me about any plan."
  • "Look at what you have to be thankful for." They know they have things to be thankful for, but right now they are not important.
  • "He's in a better place now." The bereaved may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.
  • "This is behind you now; it's time to get on with your life." Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with because they feel this means "forgetting" their loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and works at its own pace.
  • Statements that begin with "You should" or "You will." These statements are too directive. Instead you could begin your comments with: "Have you thought about. . ." or "You might. . ."

The advice on what not to say is taken from the American Hospice Foundation, which I thought was very useful because I think we are all guilty of offering up something like 'he's in a better place now'. I also discovered that if anyone said they wanted to die or couldn't cope or go on then act immediately, don't leave them alone and get professional help.

Reading through the many websites I was struck by a great deal of tenderness and when Chanel said that fashion is all around us and so forth, one can't help but wonder if broderie anglaise is the right way to go! Perhaps a little less 'fierce' would be a start...


  1. I always worry about saying the wrong thing so this post is very helpful. I also completed a counselling course last year and the practical aspects of the course made me realis ejust how powerful listening can be.

  2. Thank you so much for passing on this information - my best friend lost her father to cancer and she threw herself into work (PR). She got married a year later and had a baby recently and we still never talk about her loss. But its all coming to a head with the pressure of being a new mum and a baby who will never know his granddad. So I hope I can be good enough a listener and help her through it all

  3. That is such good information, I know when my father died, I was distraught and unconsolable. Maybe if I had been alone, without my husband and two little boys who were then 6 and 3, I dont know what I would have done.
    Grief is so personal and affects people in different ways xx

  4. Hi there-this post is a wealth of information and advice, thanks so much for sharing this. No one knows how grief will strike them and how they will or can deal with it, being as non-judgemental, open and supportive as you can to someone in this situation is so important.

  5. You're such a wondeful person. Stay just how you are.

    Us english just offer a cup of tea, and hope everything will be ok. We definetely need more advice!!

    Paddy☮ xx

    click here for LITTLE RAZZI blog

  6. This article is incredibly good and I say that as a psychology student but foremost as a person who has lost people close to me and so I absolutely identify with all that you have said. Thank you for that.
    My friend died after a terrible car crash when he was 19, together with his parents. It was the hardest thing for us, who knew him to grasp. He was in a hospital miles away and we had no chance to go see him, we just sat at our homes for days begging him in our thoughts to hold on to life and not go. It is ridiculous and irrational, but that's just how you feel. You make silly offers to god or whomever in your mind, thinking if he lives, you will do such and such...
    I have learned that there is no right answer, question, nothing you could say or do, to make those feelings when you loose someone easier, nor to make them go away. You just shut up, listen and hold someone's hand. Take care of the person, but do not try to soothe him or her. After all grieving is important, because it is the way to deal with loss. You mourn and that is the only way.

    I feel like the whole McQueen tragedy was turned into a PR show. All the celebrities commenting on their Twitters etc... how annoying. If you have nothing to say, then shut up. Please- for the sake of those, who really cared.

    BTW. I like your blog, been secretly stalking it, but now it's time to come out.

  7. Great post with excellent advice that you have put a lot of thought into.

  8. Excellent advice. Thanks for sharing with:)

  9. Great advice, and plenty of food for thought. On the one hand it doesn't bear thinking about, on the other forewarned is forearmed.

  10. Tell me, in the midst of the shock, winter ennui and sadness over recent death of McQueen - was your first impulse to go shopping for a new piece of clothing? (That tends to be my gut response.)

    I'm still not frittering - and since I spend so much money on sewing (at this point I'm sure it's more than I ever spent on clothes) and then so much time doing the sewing, I barely have time to think about shops.

    Maybe my plan isn't working as well to save me $$ as I would have liked :-) But I'm not frittering, that's for sure.

    Great tips from the Hospice organization. Everyone can benefit from these at some point.

  11. This is great advice, I always wonder about that

  12. Though as you say, one wonders about the objectivity of that article, it was still very heartbreaking to read. I really hope he is in a better place.


  13. If I ever mention a bit of gloom to my MIL--the children did xyz, for instance, or I feel lmn, she always cheerfully replies, "Oh,it's going to get worse!" Great comfort, that.

  14. As you know I feel very related to what this post is about. And I find in it very much things so true.
    Those "Comments to avoid..." are so important, you don't know (lucky you) how they can be unbearable.

    Have you read my "giving a voice to sorrow" post?

    I think you did it right, so many people doesn't know how to deal with someone that is grieving the loss of a loved one.

    Thank you!!!!


    [url=]Blona dziewicza[/url]

  16. From the moment I heard that he died, I wondered what you would have to say. I am not disappointed. You are always spot on about the fashion world.
    Also, this has been one of the best articles I have ever read on comforting those in grief. I should pass it on to my patients' families.

  17. kredyt pozyczka kredyt bez bik podatek dochodowy cialis


Thank you for commenting, much appreciated. Sorry about no longer offering anonymous comments but spamming had become a very annoying issue. xxx