For Community

These are some guidelines about how to respond when a member of your community has died.

DO:

  • Be caring and compassionate
  • Offer your condolences
  • Ask how your bereaved members would like to stay in contact
  • Ask how much information the deceased’s family members would like the community members to know, and if they wish to be contacted by the community members.
  • Consider any community members who were known to be closely connected with the deceased or who demonstrate visible, intense grief reactions
  • Be conscious of diversity and accommodate religious beliefs and customs where it is reasonable and practical.
  • Consider what action to take if the death is in the media.
  • Give bereaved community members appropriate information about grief reactions and help resources.
  • Remember that the full impact of a bereavement may not be felt until some time after the death.

DON’T:

  • Ignore the situation.
  • Assume you know how bereaved community members are feeling – every bereavement is unique.
  • Say anything that may minimize or undermine the loss, such as: “We all have to go sometime”.
  • Say anything to make light of bereavement, such as: “Time will heal”.
  • Make the assumption that bereaved community members have “gotten over” their grief and are “back to normal” if they look okay and are functioning normatively.

If your community member’s death occurred in the context of an accident or a crisis when other community members were present:

  • Organize a debriefing session with the bereaved community members involved in the accident or crisis, following the incident
  • Ensure that all community members are supported as they grieve
  • Arrange for a meeting for all community members when it is appropriate to do so; to express the communal sense of loss and sympathy for the family members affected, and to decide on a form of memorial
  • Ensure that media interest is kept away from your community’s premises and appointment a members to liaise with any journalist that gets in touch
  • Keep the deceased’s family members aware of what is happening in the community, and the need to watch out for signs of distress in their children or young people in the months to come.

Credits: Cruse Bereavement Care