Accompanying the Bereaved

Mental preparation:
Consider your own ability to cope with stress and your own state of mind:
Am I under great stress at the moment? What mental strength and how much inner leeway do I have? What feelings do I have in me – resistance, excessive demands, panic?
What special skills do I have? Am I familiar with the procedures and infrastructure of the flight operation/airport, the facilities for help?
Who can provide me with support?

Dealing with those involved:

  • Introduce yourself to those involved (name, function, task) and explain the next steps.
  • Watch how the bereaved are doing: shock, catalepsy, helplessness, panic, fear, breathing problems, nervousness, feelings of guilt, doing things for the sake of doing them, aggression.
  • React calmly. Exaggerated reactions by those involved are normal feelings. They must be taken seriously, as they indicate a state of shock.
  • Provide rational and patient responses to (often repeated) questions concerning what, when, where and how things happened.
  • Try to generate a calm atmosphere. Find an uninterrupted place that allows for stabilization, orientation and thus coming to terms with reality.
  • Make clear that there is plenty of time, adopt the speed of the others involved.
  • Listen.
  • Observe the bereaved and remain nearby.
  • Offer something to eat, also drinks (with sugar content).
  • Expect cultural particularities and respect these (e.g. African ululation).


  • Who should be informed when?
  • Are telephone calls required (care is called for here as there is the threat of a possible loss of control)?
  • Who should be there, with whom can they await relatives/friends?
  • Is support from others (such as pastoral support) wanted?


  • Inform all involved, how things will proceed and how the situation will end.
  • Arrange the environment to suit the needs of those involved for the next few hours.
  • Ensure that there is adequate distance from the scene of death.

Seek relief from your own strain (e.g. by talking with someone you can trust).