Theo Coggin

A blog on communications

Genuine forms of communication are key during times of grief

GrievingCommunicating in a time of grief is the most challenging of all.

It doesn’t matter whether you actually practice the craft of communication or are just a manager or a colleague, you will face this one day.

Grief isn’t always just about death. It can be about divorce, broken relationships,a  loss of a job etc.

There are some communicators specifically trained to do so. They are found amongst the ranks of the clergy of different faiths and specialist councillors. My research amongst them, however, suggests that not all of them cope with this most onerous form of communication as well as they should. That is not a criticism but an observation for this is a difficult issue.

Others who find themselves in a position of having to speak or write to those in a position of grief are managers in any organisation. Unlike clergy or trained councillors they have not necessarily received specific training on the subject.

Expressions of sympathy in the time honoured format of extending their condolences is usually the manner in which it is dismissed in the corporate world.

How then to do it? There is no easy answer for grief lingers long after the event.

Sensitivity is key. Respecting the wishes of the person grieving similarly so. Sitting with them, holding hands, hugging and other tactile expressions, if appropriate, also.

But, in my experience, being “available” – whatever the time, whatever the circumstance – is a prerequisite.

Just be there. And let the person or persons grieving know that you are genuine for your love for them.


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5 thoughts on “Genuine forms of communication are key during times of grief

  1. Willem van der Merwe on said:

    Well said Theo! The word that comes to mind immediately is “respect” for the other person’s truth. Non verbal communication has many forms and one has to take the lead from the grieving person and not base your actions on your own assumptions about the situation. Therefore, as you quite rightly pointed out, the genuine sincere availability to the person is critical to the feeling of comfort and care and will speed up recovery to a functional level of “being” again.

    • So true, Willem. As I have said in a reply to an earlier comment, social media can also be a valuable tool these days. I have friends on Facebook who grieve and I am constantly moved by their clear need for an empathetic ear, even in that public space, for their needs. I have found this quite challenging and thought-provoking.

  2. Clive Hamlyn on said:

    I think you are so right Theo, being available, being present is the most precious gift you can give anyone grieving.

  3. sr.ann marie on said:

    Very sensitive reply, Theo!

    Sr. Ann Marie

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