Scottish Daily Mail

Speak up to help the bereaved

- Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationsh­ip problems each week. Write to Bel Mooney, Scottish Daily Mail, 20 Waterloo Street, Glasgow G2 6DB, or e-mail A pseudonym will be used if you wish. Bel reads all letter

AT A party recently, I met a delightful man whose face is very well known from television.

Actors can suffer rather from that instant recognitio­n, which has nothing to do with who they really are.

While being famous is flattering when you are in favour and in the limelight, it can also make you very lonely when you are not. People will always make enthusiast­ic small talk about the character you play, never asking about the real you.

Now, because I had looked him up on the internet, I’d discovered that this man had suffered a shocking bereavemen­t 20 months ago. It had been very public at the time.

As soon as two people chatting to him drifted away, I took the plunge and simply said how very sad I had been to read about his terrible loss and how lovely his wife’s face was in my mind’s eye — having studied her pictures online. Just that.

He murmured a heartfelt thank you, paused, then leaned forward spontaneou­sly to kiss me — not minding at all that I raised the subject of loss among the clinking glasses, canapes and chat. ‘People never say anything because they don’t know what to say,’ he said.

How many times have I written how the bereaved long for the recognitio­n that something momentous has happened?

Please, if in doubt, say something. It doesn’t have to be a speech, just a quiet acknowledg­ement that you know and care.

My new friend and I could have talked for a day and a night about love and loss and guilt and grief. I told him one or two sad stories from my life and he returned my avid attention. It was a special encounter.

Sometimes, in a crowded room, I look round and wonder what layers of sorrow lie beneath the small talk. Yet, the comforting buzz of normality is necessary. Without it we might be deafened by the weeping of the world.

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