Community

While a death is often felt most by the closest family and friends, there is also an impact through a much wider community, particularly with sudden or tragic deaths. As the famous John Donne poem ‘No man is an island’ observes, the loss of any individual within a community is felt by everyone, if only in a small and indirect way.

The death of an individual has a direct impact upon those that s/he had contact with. For instance, their place of work, the clubs s/he belonged to, the pub s/he drank at. How should people in these situations deal with their own loss? How should they commemorate the person who has died? How should they behave at the funeral/react to the relatives?

The impact may also be indirect in that the person we are concerned with loses a close relative. How should we behave with such people? For instance, when a child loses a parent and is due to return to school; a workmate loses a spouse and is due to return to work. These are considerable problems that we encounter infrequently and yet saying the wrong thing or behaving in the wrong way can have serious implications for all concerned, both immediately and long into the future.

The answers to these problems are not taught to us at school. Nor does our society, for all of its progress in other ways, cope well with the subject of bereavement.

We can provide help with these difficult situations by providing someone to talk to individuals or groups of people. We can advise on the things to do and the pitfalls to avoid. The value of such consultancy is greatest if arranged promptly. We are able to offer this service without necessarily making a charge but hope that where it is being offered to those who can afford it, such as companies or institutions, and where the advice proves to be useful, a donation towards our expenses could be made.

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