When it comes to the death of a loved friend, it’s never a good idea to check in with friends.
When they’re gone.
A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has found that people are actually more likely to check on someone who has passed away, if they know they have time to do so.
“This study is the first to show that people do not rely solely on a friend to give them information about the death,” said lead researcher Daniel W. Cote, a professor of psychiatry at the Penn School of Medicine.
Cote is the senior author of the study.
“We looked at friends and family and looked at people who were not in contact with friends at the time of death,” Cote told Reuters Health.
“We found that there is an increased probability of death that people knew about, even when the death was not confirmed by anyone.”
“If people knew at the moment that someone was dead, they would check in on the person and they would do it quickly,” he said.
In the study, published in the journal Psychological Science, the researchers asked people to fill out questionnaires in an effort to track people’s emotional reactions and feelings as they waited to meet someone who had passed away.
The results were striking: People who were in contact for a long time with their friends and loved ones at the same time were less likely to report checking in on their friends.
In addition, people who knew their loved one had passed on were more likely than people who didn’t to check back in with their loved ones, even if the person had not died.
Cove said the findings have important implications for family planning and other important issues.
“The idea is to be as prepared as possible, particularly for people who are going to die,” he told Reuters.
“This may be a really important topic for health professionals, especially in situations where people are going through the loss of a close friend or relative.”
Cote said his study may be especially relevant to families dealing with grief and other trauma, which can lead to a sense of helplessness.
“People don’t want to know they are not prepared to take care of themselves,” he explained.
“In the case of the family, we know that grief and trauma can have a negative impact on their functioning and ability to have an emotional well-being, and therefore that is something that we need to be thinking about and trying to avoid.”
While the study only looked at death, Cote said it could be applied to other situations in which someone might have passed away and they needed to know if anyone was looking out for them.
“You might be able to ask people what they are looking out at, or what they’re thinking, and then you can get a better sense of how they are coping with their loss,” he added.
“There are a lot of reasons why we don’t know how to treat grief and traumatic loss, and that is really important to consider when we are thinking about family planning.”
The study also revealed that people who check in are more likely in touch with loved ones than those who don’t.
“A lot of people are not in touch, so they may not know if their loved person is coming back,” Cotes said.
“If we know someone is coming home, we can make sure that we are prepared and they have the right support to come home.”
Cotes said his research team is working to replicate the results, but is already seeing the results from other studies.
“I think this is a really interesting finding, and it shows that it is not necessarily a matter of being close to someone, but more of the fact that you know that someone is there,” he joked.
“It might also be a matter that you are feeling vulnerable and anxious.”SOURCE: bit.ly/2kJ5YjB journal of psychiatry, health psychology, psychology, social psychology, death, social, bereavement