This morning I made a trip to the bank to close his account. As I produced the Death Certificate for the lady at the desk and explained the situation to her, she started looking for the manager somewhere behind me while saying the words, ”Sorry to hear that.” There was no change in her facial expression at all. It did not touch her. It was a routine query.
I was reminded of the contrast of Day 0 when the two Transport Police officers visited our house with the news. One of them was fairly senior whereas the other was very young. They were so kind and sensitive. The senior gentleman admitted that he has done this (bringing bad news to families) many times but it never gets easier. His words and body language were coherent. I could see and feel his compassion despite the state I was in. They gave me all the time and space that I needed and waited with me till his father arrived. In the gentlest way possible they answered my disbelieving questions. I felt admiration for him for being such a good example for his junior colleague.
Empathy cannot be taught but having it makes a world of difference.
This talk by Dick Moore on BBC Radio 4 on mental health issues affecting young people echoed my feelings exactly. He is so honest in his account of his son’s struggle with his mental state and finally suicide. Speaking to him this morning, I saw hope. Thanks for encouraging me to look out for ‘silver linings’ Dick. This is a compassionate, educative and inspiring piece.
I hope one day I will be able to help in my own way.