Title

HELPFUL AND UNHELPFUL COMMENTS AFTER SUICIDE, HOMICIDE, ACCIDENT, OR NATURAL DEATH

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1992

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Comments made to recently bereaved persons may be experienced as helpful or unhelpful. To see helpfulness ratings varied depending on the cause of the death, 141 college students rated thirty potentially comforting remarks which might be made to a recently bereaved person. They were told that the death was either natural and anticipated, natural and unanticipated, a suicide, a homicide, or accidental. ANOVAs revealed that six of the thirty responses varied significantly in helpfulness ratings depending upon the type of death. Although expressions of personal willingness to help or listen were consistently rated as most helpful, other remarks that were seen as helpful when the cause of death was unknown paled when the cause was known. The least helpful comment to make to a recently bereaved person concerned the funeral home doing a good job. The results herein could be used to teach people what to say when trying to comfort someone, but such teaching may need to be experimental rather than didactic.

Publication Title

OMEGA-JOURNAL OF DEATH AND DYING

Volume

25

Issue

1

First Page

25

Last Page

31

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