Being asked to recall the loss of a loved one can be a difficult process for both the interviewee and the interviewer. Here are a few tips when interviewing grieving families.
1.Take care not to re-traumatise the family - Remember to approach a bereaved person sensitively. Doorstepping can cause someone to re-experience a death and the bereaved could see doorstepping as a violation. Personal details of a loved one could potentially end up in the media and that could be hard to take, so make sure you have permission to share everything you discussed.
2. Consider your approach - Bereavement can be mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. They can find it hard to retain information and concentrate, due to trauma so you really need to sit down and spend time with them. Expect lots of questions and be prepared to make repeat visits.
3. Be mindful - Explain what you want from that person, what you are doing and why. Consider going through a third-party, as this gives the bereaved person time to really think about what’s asked of them. And think about giving the bereaved person a say in the output - it can be a really positive experience if they are able to discuss the content with the journalist or programme-maker.
4. After filming - Be sure to leave your contact details with the family so that if they have any questions or thoughts they can talk to someone. Give prior warning of when your work will be shared so that the bereaved family is prepared.
5. Look after yourself - Keep in mind that you should be prepared for your own reactions – you may get upset too.
Interested in learning more about communication strategies check out our free course on Documenting and reporting human rights abuses using testimony.