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Dear Annie: Making my late brother a part of the conversation

A smiling man takes a photo with friends

Dear Annie: How can I tell friends it’s okay to talk about my brother? He was a real joker and the life and soul, but it’s like they are treading on eggshells around me.

Should they follow my lead, or are they feeling things that I should ask them about? – SB

Annie says: It’s an uncomfortable experience when we witness others treading so carefully around us. The most unfortunate aspect of this reoccurring problem is that it leaves the bereaved in the position of having to reassure and comfort the comforters, just as you are experiencing.

I would lead by example, as you say – and also lay out the ground rules. Tell them you find it difficult that they won’t talk about your brother and that you’d like to be able to share memories. Hopefully this will trigger a conversation where they tell you what they are feeling about it, so that you can all establish a confident way of interacting with each other.

If you have a question for Annie to answer in this column, you can write to her at

About Annie

Annie Broadbent is a trained psychosynthesis counselor, with specialist experience working with the bereaved. As a therapist she explores the mind, body, feelings and spirit, working with individuals in a way that is most appropriate for them.

She is the author of bestselling self-help book We Need to Talk About Grief, inspired by personal experiences of living through bereavement, including her own. Whilst writing her book, Annie volunteered at a hospice and has given a number of talks on issues around grief, bereavement and mental health.

Regretfully, Annie cannot enter into personal correspondence

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