From More Intelligent Life:

Badnewscrop_0Every year, 1.17m people die in road accidents around the world. As of January 2011, 7,066 soldiers from coalition forces had been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with an estimated 110,000 civilians; in 2007, the last year for which there are full figures, 521,303 people died of cancer in western Europe. Behind all these statistics are families who need to be informed and someone whose job it is to inform them. There is now a widespread belief that the way the news is delivered has a profound effect on the way the dead person is remembered and the way the survivors heal.

There are some textbook examples of what not to do. Putting a note through the letterbox; getting the victim’s name wrong; using euphemisms such as “lost” or “passed on” (confusing at a time when someone is trying hard not to believe it); and turning up in shorts and flip-flops, like the British diplomats who greeted one woman as she arrived in Bahrain in 2006 after her husband’s death in a boat disaster. A vision that has stuck in her mind, rather than anything that was said.
And what of the bearers of bad news? What is it like to knock on a door knowing you are about to instigate the worst moment in someone’s life, and then have to confront the ways in which they do or do not deal with the fact that a life has ended?

More here.