Couple of years back I had to face one of the most difficult situations of my life twice. It was, talking to the wives of their deceased husbands. My voice was shaking and I was stammering. I was unable to choose my words while speaking to them. Somehow I managed to talk to them in two different days.
Afterwards, I was pondering on this matter deeply. I recalled the time when my brother died in an road accident in January 2011; I was in the same condition as they were now. I just tried to recall the messages and the calls and the consoling words of people for me at that time of bereavement. Some were irritating, overdone and some were quite comforting.
Finally, I came out with a list of Dos’ and Don’ts’, which will give us an idea about this matter.
Listening Patiently: When we face a bereaved family, the first thing we have to do is just listen to them/him/her patiently. She/he will cry, sob, speak deliriously and we will have to be just quiet and listen carefully. That was one thing really helped us when people came and listened to us at that particular time of grief.
Give a hug: “Jaddu ki Jhappi” (Hindi), ‘a hug’, really comforts. If it’s possible on our part to give a hug then we should not hesitate to give it as soon as we face them. But be careful of the situation and when we are comforting a person of opposite sex. We need to be sensitive and responsible enough of our each actions.
Don’t stop them from weeping: Some people try to stop the bereaved persons from crying by saying, “Please don’t cry… the person won’t come back… .” I will slap a person if I face that kind of comfort from him/her. We should never stop the bereaved from weeping in fact we should allow and encourage them to weep and wail more. That will help them to unburden themselves. They will feel lighter if they do so.
Cry with them: If possible when they cry or weep, we should cry with them. It will give them a sense that we are also sorrowful as them. It doesn’t mean that if we don’t feel like crying we will pretend to cry. It should be natural. We may not weep if we don’t feel like.
Don’t describe about the deceased: We should not describe about the deceased in front of the family members again and again with others. That doesn’t give them opportunity to divert themselves from the situation. Even sometimes that irritates them.
Don’t force them to eat more, if they don’t feel like: We should never force them to eat more or do something which they don’t want to do. We should give them enough space to gather their own strength and come back to their old state of mind. But we should always be careful about their food and physical health. Grief is highly draining. It sucks all the juices and energy of person’s body.
It is really difficult to specify which are the correct ways of consoling a particular family or person. But the above points really gave me comfort and I think those will be helpful for all of us when we face this kind of situations in our lives.