Compassion for Bereaved Families

cremation services

Before and after cremation services, one of the most important needs of a bereaved family that has lost someone they love is heartfelt empathy and compassion. One of the ways this is best demonstrated is through communication with the family.

It’s important to understand that communication is much more than just the words we say. Much of understanding, relating to, and reacting to communication consists of tone, word choices, gestures, and facial expressions. In a time of grieving, this is even more critical because emotions are raw and stress is high and, quite frankly, everything seems bigger and more overwhelming than it normally would. Therefore, just one communication lapse, even if it’s unintentional, in any of the areas that define communication can have disastrous results.

One part of relaying compassion through communication is to acknowledge that this is about the deceased and the family they leave behind and their needs, wishes, and desires. Everyone around them should be there to serve them in whatever way they need, and to comfort and support them. Imposing personal wishes or desires on the family is not compassionate communication, and it can create anger, resentment, and tension.

Another aspect of relaying compassion through communication is in tone and word choice. Saying things like, “everything’s going to be fine,” “you just need to get up and keep going,” “it’s for the best,” or “they’re not suffering anymore, so you should be happy” is incredibly insensitive and very offensive. Using a tone that suggests a lack of genuine care and concern will be picked up on right away and will make the emotional state of the bereaved family much worse.

One of the best ways to show compassion through communication is to simply listen to the grieving family members. Listen with your eyes, your ears, and your heart. Many times people who are grieving just need to talk. They’re not looking for cosmic answers or deep philosophy or a lot of knowledge. They are simply looking for someone to sit with them, to hear them, and to support them simply by being there.

In the Western world, this is the antithesis of how we’ve been taught to communicate. Because Western society places great value on extroversion, we’re taught from an early age that silence is a bad thing. Instead, being talkative and being able to carry on a conversation with anyone and everyone is not only a good thing, but the right thing to do. However, when people are grieving, it is not always a good thing or the right thing to do.

Another excellent way to show compassion through communication is to not make assumptions and not to interrupt what someone is saying because of the assumptions. Assumptions almost always get humans into trouble with other humans. None of us walks in anyone else’s shoes but our own, so making assumptions based on our experiences or what we think someone else is saying or wants or needs is always going to cause problems.

Every grieving family needs compassion and empathy as they process the death of a loved one, go through the funeral process, and get back to life after the funeral is over. Communication is one of the strongest ways that compassion and empathy can be given, but only if it’s done right.

For information about cremation services, our compassionate and experienced team at Hopler & Eschbach is here to serve you. You can visit our funeral home at 483 Chenango St., Binghamton, NY 13901, or you can call us today at (607) 722-4023.