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The Church of Sweden launches First Aid for Grief

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A recent Sifo survey has shown that many people feel a great deal of uncertainty about responding to another person’s grief – and would like to be better able to support their friends and colleagues at such times. For this reason, the Church of Sweden is launching today First Aid for Grief with a package sent out to 2,000 Swedish companies. “First Aid for Grief cannot remove the pain but may be able to help us to help each other,” says Ingrid Edgardh, a priest in the Church of Sweden.

First Aid for Grief is a collection of practical tips on how to help our fellow human beings in times of grief and sorrow – both at work and in our private lives.
 

First Aid for Griefis a collection of practical tips on the kinds of things that we, as fellow human beings, friends and colleagues, can do for a grieving person. These tips are based on the Church of Sweden’s experience of providing support to people in times of grief and sorrow at different stages in life. The aim is to assist people when confronted with the grief of another person. The First Aid kit is offered in the form of a poster and brochure and is also available from the Church of Sweden’s website.

“First Aid for Grief cannot remove the pain but may be able to help us to help each other. It is just as important to treat grief as it is to treat physical wounds. We are often asked about how we can help our fellow human beings in times of grief and sorrow, and our experience is that simple things play a major role. Making contact is important,” says Ingrid Edgardh, a priest in the Church of Sweden with many years of experience as a hospital chaplain.

Swedes want to be better able to respond to grief
The Sifo survey was based on 4,200 interviews and conducted on behalf of the Church of Sweden. It showed that 95 per cent think that it is important to be there and support people who are grieving, but at the same time many people are uncertain about how to respond to another person’s grief. Close to 7 out of 10 (68%) have had the experience of not knowing what to do or say when a person is grieving. 71 per cent would like to be able to respond in a better way to people who are grieving. Among the young (18–29 year-olds), almost 4 out of 5 (79%) stated that they would like to be better prepared.

Reaching 2,000 workplaces
This week, First Aid for Grief will reach businesses throughout the country in a dispatch to 2,000 HR managers and HR officers. Organisations and other workplaces are also welcome to order posters and brochures free of charge from the Church of Sweden’s website.

“In our view, responding to a bereaved person is also a personnel issue. At every workplace, you can find a first-aid kit containing bandages and antiseptic to assist if anyone gets injured. We take it for granted. But when an employee is affected by bereavement, many people don’t know what to do or say. We hope that our tips will be able to help more people to feel better prepared the next time someone in their surroundings suffers from grief,” says Gunilla Löf Edberg, national coordinator for the Duty Priest service (Jourhavande präst) at the Central Church Office in Uppsala.

The Sifo survey about grief – Summary

The survey was conducted by Kantar Sifo during the period 20 September to 5 October 2017. 4,200 people (200 from each county) between the ages of 18 and 79 years took part in web-based interviews. The results in brief:

– Grief is important. 95 per cent think that it is important to be there and support people who are grieving the loss of someone. More women (97%) than men (93%) responded that they agreed with this statement to some degree.

– There is uncertainty associated with how to respond to a person who is grieving. Close to 7 out of 10 (68%) have experienced at some time that they did not know what to do or say to a person who was suffering from grief. People younger than 50 years stated this more often than older age groups.

 68 per cent were of the opinion that in Sweden we are generally not good at dealing with grief.Women (73%) stated this more frequently than men (64%). People in the 50–64 age group agreed with this statement more frequently than other age groups (72%).

– Women are more comfortable about responding to the bereaved. Women (63%) stated more frequently than men (49%) that they are comfortable about responding to the bereaved. 34 per cent of men and 19 per cent of women stated that they find attempting to respond to a grieving person so uncomfortable that it is something they try to avoid.

– What is perceived to be the most difficult in responding to the bereaved is what to say (51%), fear of being intrusive (43%), and knowing what is okay to do (33 %). Only 8 per cent experienced that nothing is difficult when they encounter the bereaved.

– Many people would like to be able to respond in a better way to the bereaved, particularly young people. A total of 7 of 10 (71%) would like to be able to respond in a better way to people who are grieving. More young people, 18–29 years (79%), would like to be better at this compared with older age groups.

– More than one quarter (28%) have at some time in their lives had regretted how they responded to someone who was grieving. Over half (55%) have not regretted how they responded. In the age group 18–29 years, 32 per cent stated that they regretted how they had responded to someone who was grieving.

– Women are more dissatisfied than men with how other people responded to them when they were grieving. One in three (33%) of women have been disappointed with the way that others responded to them when they were grieving – more than twice as many as men (15%). Respondents to the survey stated more often that they would have liked their friends to have done more for them (16%) than other groups. Employers and the workplace were also mentioned frequently in the open responses to the survey when we asked those who were disappointed about who might have done more for them.

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Svenska kyrkan
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