Grave Words: Notifying Survivors About Unexpected
Gravest Words Video
Teaching Slides on Death Notification
Pocket Protocols for Notifying Survivors about Sudden Unexpected
Contact-Generally, touching the key survivor's shoulder, hand,
or arm is welcomed as a sign of closeness, no matter what the gender
age of the parties involved. The circumstances and following the
lead should govern any additional contact.
Posture- The way the torso is positioned delivers the most obvious
message. Sitting forward connotes empathy. Sitting too relaxed,
back or with arms draped over the furniture, connotes disinterest,
fear, or anger.
Movements-One of the most culturally unique factors, direct
contact, suggests that the speaker is listening to the other party.
eye contact suggests that you are in control-a necessity when survivors
are threatening to act violently. (In some cultures, how- ever,
contact is a sign of disrespect.)
Expressions-How the mouth is held and how the eyebrows and
nose move during speech or in response to another person says volumes
about what the person really feels. We commonly use our eyebrows
express disbelief, surprise, puzzlement, or anger.
& Foot Gestures-Other than when making bodily contact, hands
feet should be comfortably at rest. Sitting on one's hands or having
hands or feet suggests disinterest or deceit.
Position-Anything other than a neutral position connotes disinterest.
(This means that the chin should be centered over the chest- not
from the survivor.) Nodding the head reinforces survivors' statements
suggests that they should continue speaking.
Proximity-Sitting next to the key survivor, or crouching in
beside them suggests empathy.
Position to Survivors-Positioning oneself on the same level,
sitting, as the key survivor eliminates any suggestion of an Imbalance
(The uniform or white coat is enough of a power statement.)