I’ll be writing occasional research notes on my “Being Helpful in Loss” project.
The survey was opened to the public on September 2. Since then, I’ve shared it to my newsletters, and Dr. Lee Warren shared it in his weekly newsletter. Both of our audiences are aware that we talk and write about grief and loss and hope. (It’s still open).
With 119 completed surveys and 31 partially completed, I can make some observations, but am not ready to do deep analysis. That’s coming. But here’s what I’m seeing so far.
97% gave the year of death.
25% of those gave the date of death.
The first isn’t surprising to me. When we are talking about the loss of someone we care about, we usually know the year (though I have to mentally calculate the year each time for my dad).
The second is a reminder of how clearly some of us remember that date. It sticks. It matters.
86% give the name of the person who died.
It’s an optional field. And it’s sometimes private piece of information. But people are willing to write that name.
This fits with what people say in other parts of the survey, that they would like people to ask them about their loved one.
And I’m grateful one of my survey testers suggested this.
The survey asks four really simple (though sometimes hard) questions.
In the time just after your loss, did anyone say anything helpful, do anything helpful, or give you any grief materials that were helpful? What would have been particularly helpful for someone to do or say?
At the moment, here are the results:
Say anything particularly helpful:
no = 53%, yes but I don’t remember =22.7%, yes, I remember clearly 24%
Do anything particularly helpful:
no = 34.1%, yes but I don’t remember =12.4%, yes, I remember clearly 53.5%
Give you grief resources that were particularly helpful:
no = 70.5%, yes but I don’t remember =7.6%, yes, I remember clearly 22%
In the “What would have been helpful” question, 89% have offered comments.
In looking through the responses in a very superficial (though deeply interested way), I’m noticing what I want to follow up on.
- People remember what’s done more than what’s said.
- People want to talk about how people helped.
- People have very different responses to the support they received, or didn’t.
- One of my working assumptions is that we respond differently to loss, but as helpers we often assume that people respond the same. I’m seeing comments that support that. I’m looking forward to reflecting on this more.
- About two-thirds of respondents are open to additional follow-up surveys and reports about the project. I’m looking forward to this.
- So far, a majority of respondents lost parents. I’m looking forward to getting more responses from people who have lost children. I believe (from observation and from our own experience), that we have significant opportunities to learn what’s helpful. (Particularly since we know a lot about what’s not helpful)
Leave a Reply