How to Deliver Bad News To Family?

How to Deliver Bad News To Family

Writing on how to deliver bad news to family is rather a difficult thing for me to do. Having suffered through the loss of my mother and brother, deliberating on such topics make me feel a bit sad as well as conscious of how people deal with bad news.

There are countless examples of bad news which one can hear and deliver. For me, even telling a mother that her child will be late from school due to traffic jam is bad news too. But it depends a lot on how we deal with the bad news.

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A lot of people do not react at all to bad news- their reaction is more of suppressing their sadness and look brave at the moment. And to some extent, they are right too.

Looking brave or trying to be brave in worse situations is a great activity as it provides you with confidence and courage to face the moment.

But at some level, it may become useless because there comes a moment where you have to face the truth- where you have to come up with a personal strategy to cope with that challenge and bad news.

Considering a set of different reactions which come out from people who actually listen to bad news either about themselves or for their loved ones, therefore, requires a lot of care and tacit to deliver such news.

The purpose of this post, therefore is to discuss some of the subtle and effective ways of how to deliver bad news to the family.

Here are some of the tips for you if you find yourself in such a situation.

How to deliver bad news to family

How to Deliver bad news to family

Delivering bad news can be tricky. It can trigger emotions which may be hard to control- at least for some time. To avoid any emotional outbursts, it is always advisable to follow some of the following tips while delivering bad news to a family.

Always be Indirect

It is one of the established principals of personal communication that bad news is always delivered last.

You need to be very cautious of the fact that bad news can seriously affect someone’s mental health. To avoid any damage, you need to be tactful.

Instead of being direct and tell everything in the first sentence, always try to build on something more relevant to start with. Start with a soft conversation and deliver the news in bits and pieces.

There have been instances in my life where delivering bad news directly was a nightmare for me. I remember informing a friend about the death of his brother. It was really a painful moment for me to go through this pain of delivering news which they were already expecting.

But still it took me ages to come up with the right words to narrate the fact. I was able to deliver this news because I was not direct. I gradually took the conversation to the point where it became quite clear for them about what I was actually saying and informing them.

Be Genuine

It is easy to be fake and show off as you care about a lot of things. But the bad thing with being fake is that you can easily be spotted.

While deliverig a bad news, it is extremely important to be geniune. There is a very small margin of error when delivering a bad news because if the person receiving the bad news read your expressions in some other way, you are certaily going to loose a friend for life.

When I say be geniune, it means, you should look geniune too. It happens a lot of time with most of us that our faces tell a different story. It seems as if we are just getting rid of something by delivering the news.

Such attitude or expressions can hurt more than they offer the assuage and comfort to the grieving family.

So be geniune and authentic when delivering the bad news to the family.

Do Not Be Offended

Naturally, people ask questions. Those who suffer grief and sadness due to loss of life or any other reason want to know more.

It is often the case that the person delivering the bad news has to face some questions. Though they may not know a lot of details about the particular incident, they are often asked a lot of questions and details.

And this should not offend you because listening and reacting to bad news is a natural phenomenon. You should be angry rather your attitude and actions should be such that you should try to calm someone down from the sad or angry situation.

Always Deliver the Bad News to One Person of the Family Only

A family is more than one person and to deliver the news to everyone at the same time may put you in a difficult position to explain it to everyone. It is more feasible to actually deliver the news to someone who is either head of the family or someone who can control other members of the family or have influence over them.

In my personal experience, it has happened many times that dealing with many sad personalities at the same time can be a daunting task. Instead, focus on delivering the news to the right person.

When facing the fall back of the bad news, you may also suggest the family see any crisis services or the therapist. You may also have to suggest ways to get over with this grief or bad news.

So the overall, your responsibility to deliver bad news can culminate into something bigger than you initially thought about. It is always a good idea to be prepared and deliver the bad news in a more tactful and humane way.


I am Adnan- Founder of Tiny Rumi. This blog is an effort to share my journey to live a more satisfying life and to help others find the wisdom to improve their experience.

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