Listening when it’s Tough

Again, not an easy topic today.  This is really carrying on from our last Post about dealing with bad news and with death.  In that post, we focused on those experiencing the pain and grief of loss and the distress that comes with difficult and challenging situations. Today we would like to talk about being the person who is trying to be there with someone at those difficult times. If you are feeling a little low, perhaps give this post a skip and read it another day.  It’s not intended to be morbid but you might find some of the issues uncomfortable.

Otherwise - We have already addressed many of the important issues in our blog of the 6th of April - How do we talk to, and be with, someone who is upset or distressed.  All the things in that blog are relevant to supporting someone if they have had life changing news, but we would like to go a little further here.  We would like to speak particularly about talking about death and dying.

Sadly, our culture is not great at addressing this issue, even though we will all die one day and we all share the same fate.  Many people have no real experience of death or what it might mean or how it might affect people until someone close to them dies. Many of us have never seen a dead person until we are confronted with seeing the body of someone close and whom we love. For the most part this means that we are completely unprepared for our own, or the death of others.

There is a lot of good research that suggests just being able to talk about death and dying will make our experiences easier as well as getting us ready to support others going through bereavement and grief.

Here is a link to an amazing guy who works in a hospice in California talking about what really matters at the end of life 

Atul Gawande recently wrote an amazing book “Being Mortal” asking us all to understand, think about and talk about what gives us meaning and purpose in our lives and what makes a good life right up to death. And by a good life until death he is talking about the best possible experience for the person concerned but also the fact that such a death is likely to be significantly less traumatic for those left behind.

And this is him doing a Google Talk

Today then, we are asking you to think about having a conversation about death with someone you trust.  What is important to you, what would you want or not want to happen, and you can ask the same of them, if they are prepared to share.

If we talk about meaningful lives and death, when death is a way off, we believe it will make it easier when it is a lot closer. And if we talk about death, and get used to the way that feels and actually use the words “die”, “death”, “terminal”, resuscitation”, “drug treatments”, “fears”, “hopes”, “aspirations”, then when the time comes to deal with those issues and questions, we will be much better able to speak and to listen.

If we can all talk about death and dying to the people we trust, we will be much better placed to support others as and when they experience a bereavement and are living with deep grief.  If we accept the fact of death and the pain that that death will bring, we believe you will find it a little easier to sit next to that person and to let them experience their grief with you at their side.  You will not try to fill every silence, you will not try to distract or avoid, you will instead be there as the days turn and that person finds ways to live with the fact of their loss.

You can be positive and proactive, you can and should use the dead person’s name, you can ask questions about happy memories, about the most important moments and you can nurture action and positive legacy. In walking and talking we can help each other to think differently, to move our thinking forward, and to appreciate what we still have and all the beautiful things that continue.  In doing creative things we can focus our grief and make something physical to represent that person and at least some of what they meant.

Remember that you are not alone, that as mentioned in our blog of Friday the 1stof May, there are different groups that people can join and that if you are finding it difficult, you too can ask for help and talk to someone about what is going on.  Together, interconnected, we can support each other to find ways through the worst of times.

Ok, well that’s us for today!

Please let us know if there is anything you would like us to cover in future blog posts, but most of all Stay Safe Well, Kind, Connected and CREATIVE!


Please don’t go out if we don’t absolutely need to (i.e. for food basics), keep a safe distance (2 meters) from the other people around us.  Keep smiling, waving and talking.  Wash hands and avoid touching faces when out and about.

Anything we can do to stop and slow the virus is keeping more of us safe and literally saving lives.

If you have symptoms, stay inside and contact 111 or the website to get more advice.

Look forward to speaking again soon!

Be the first to comment