No matter how well meaning, does it really matter how someone died? Does it change the way you should respond to the death? Maybe the question “how” is not one the bereaved wishes to discuss, and yet how does one gracefully navigate a conversation that might be intrusive when overwhelmed with grief?
How someone died, whether by accident, terminal illness, unexpected death, violence, or suicide, should not change the way you respond to the news of the death. And it’s important to protect the privacy of the bereaved and not make them uncomfortable with intrusive questions.
Are questions ever appropriate when learning of a death? Questions that may be appropriate are: “Can you tell me where I can get information on the funeral, memorial service, or visitation?” “Is the family accepting visitors?” “Can I bring a dinner?” “Where can I make a donation in their memory?” Or, “Is there someone I can call to offer my help?”