Beautified Etiquette: When Death Happens.

Beautified Etiquette: When Death Happens.


Hello Beautified Lady,

Today’s post is on a very sensitive issue. We thank God for life and all its blessings and pray that we and our loved ones live long, purposeful lives. But what do we do when death happens? How we conduct ourselves around those that are grieving goes a long way in helping them cope with their loss as well as commence the healing process.

I will give a scenario and we’ll take off from there. (P.S I’ve snapped my fingers, thrown them over my head and said “God forbid” in advance for you)

You are asleep at 4am one lovely Saturday morning when your phone rings. It’s your family friend Abike, her voice is trembling and she informs you that she has just lost her mother who had been living with her family to a chronic illness.

You sit up in shock and try to find the words to say. “Abike, I’m so sorry, it is well, I can only imagine how you feel, God knows best”

Abike doesn’t reply, you can hear her sobbing now and people wailing in the background, the line goes dead. You are still sitting in bed sad and confused. What should you do?

  • Visit as soon as you can.

This applies more to close friends and family. Go over to the home of the deceased and offer your sympathies as well as assistance in any way you can (e.g funeral plans, babysitting the family’s children, cooking etc).

NOTE: keep your visit as brief as possible.

  • Talk but BE SENSITIVE:

Introduce yourself to the family if you were an acquaintance of the deceased but not well known to the family.

Say kind words about the deceased, do not feel as if you must avoid talking about the person who died. Most families may not want to hear “it is God’s will or he/she is in heaven now” from you at that time, be sensitive and keep those thoughts in your heart. Avoid tales of “had I known” or “it could have been me”.

  • Pray with the family.
  • Do not have expectations on how the grieving family should behave:

Loss is a terrible thing, there are different stages of grief and different ways of dealing with grief. Understand and respect this.

Some may curse, scream or ask God questions, as much as possible allow them to express their feelings; they aren’t necessarily looking for a response from you, a simple “I understand” or a touch will suffice.

Do not expect them to engage in conversations, entertain you, Dobale for the elders or mourn quietly. ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS BE THERE and ensure they do not cause harm to themselves or others.

  • Bring a meal along if you can.

I believe this depends on your intimacy with the family of the deceased. Those grieving may forget, refuse or be too busy to eat but they are human and need to eat to survive. So, bring a meal (not snacks) along for the family. You may bring some snacks along to entertain visitors.

  • Send flowers, a card or an email. It is a show of concern especially for those who are not intimate with the family.
  • If invited for the funeral, stay informed about the plans and respect the family’s wishes. Some families request a certain dress code, no flowers, no wailing or no extra guests, comply with them and be on time for all the events.
  • Always sign your name in the condolence register, it is important to note your company/church affiliation if the family may not otherwise know you.
  • At the funeral it is not mandatory to view the body, but if the family offers it, it is customary to show your respect by viewing the deceased.
  • After the funeral, keep in touch.

Call, text, visit occasionally, offer some support if you can and invite them for social events (even if they may not attend). Remember the special days. The first Christmas, anniversary or birthday without the deceased may bring back memories and grief. Do remember the family at that time and send gifts/messages.

Written by

Chiamaka Anne Meremikwu.  A doctor in training with a passion for God, humanity and literature.

She is an introverted-extrovert and she strives to make life as fun and easy as possible for as many as she can. If you don’t find her harassing her friends or grooving to some Igbo gospel music.

Read more of her work here

One thought on “Beautified Etiquette: When Death Happens.

  1. This is really educative and informative. I actually have this attitude of not knowing how to relate and act with persons who have lost a family or someone close to them. May be because I have never had to feel the loss of someone so close to me before. I really appreciate this article it’s an eye opener. I have learnt a great deal from it. Thanks and God bless.

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