BREAKING UNPLEASANT NEWS
If you have to break the undesired news of a tragic accident, or the death of a dear or close relative or friend, break the news in such a way as to lessen its impact and to make it as mild and gentle as possible. For example, in the case of a death, you may say: ‘Recently, I learned that Mrs. X has been terribly sick, and her condition worsened. Today, I heard she has passed away. May the mercy of Allah be with her.’
Start by giving the name of the person in question. Do not break the news of a death by saying, ‘Do you know who died today?’ This unduly manner frightens the listeners and prompts them to expect the worst, namely that the death involves someone who is very close to them. Instead, mention the name of the dead person before breaking the tragic news of the death. This will soften the impact of the news, reducing the listener’s apprehension, and making the news more bearable.
Convey the news of fire, drowning, or car accident, etc. in a similar fashion. Prepare the listener for the news in a way that minimizes its impact. Mention the name(s) of the affected person(s) in a kind way, not a shocking way. Some people have weak hearts and such bad news may cause them to faint and collapse.
If it is necessary to convey such news, choose the appropriate time. It should not take place at a meal, before going to sleep, or during an illness. Compassion and tactfulness are the best qualities you will need to handle such a situation.
9.2 EXPRESSING CONDOLENCES IS A COURTESY AND A DUTY
Parting among loved ones is one rule of Allah in his creations. Al-Hafiz Al-Munziri reported a Hadith, ‘Love whoever you will and you will part.’ Along this same rule, poets said:
We are but guests with our families,
Staying for a while, and leaving them.
Wealth and families are but trusts.
Inevitably, one day trusts will be recalled.
The sons of this life will all part
To meet together again in the hereafter.
One wise poet listed eight stages we must all pass through. No one will be spared of these:
Happiness and sorrow; gathering and parting;
Difficulties and easiness; and illness and good health.
Another poet said
Make perseverance your friend, and leave painful sorrow
You are not alone
Everyone lost, or will lose a loved one.
If a relative or a close friend of one of your relatives or friends dies, hasten to offer your condolences. You owe your relatives, friends and Muslim brothers the moral obligation of alleviating their plight. If you can, you should attend the funeral and the burial at the cemetery. Aside from being a highly rewarding gesture of sympathy, it could be an effective and stern admonition, and a lesson reminding you of the inevitability of death.
While alive, your life had lessons, reminders and admonition
Today, your death gives me the most important lesson
Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘A Muslim owes his Muslim brethren five gestures: returning a greeting, visiting the ill, and attending their funeral…’ Imam Ahmad
reported that the Prophet said: ‘Visit the sick and follow the procession of funerals; you will remember the Hereafter.’
Condolences is to alleviate the sense of grieving that confront the family of the deceased. This is achieved by encouraging them to be composed while trusting in Allah’s promise of great reward. Allah said in Surat Al-Baqarah ‘And give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere; who say, when afflicted with a disaster, ‘Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him is our return.’ They are those on whom descend blessings and receive the mercy of their Lord, and it they who are the guided ones.’ Condolence is done by praying for the deceased to be helped and pardoned, since they will receive the benefit of such prayers. Condolence is a sincere expression of sympathy and to share the sorrow of these stressful moments. Ibn Maja and Baihaki reported, with a fair authority, a Hadith: ‘A Muslim who consoles other Muslims suffering from a calamity will be awarded a dress of dignity by Allah on the day of Judgment.