The Death podcast: 'We need to acknowledge the dead more'

Mark Longley's daughter Emily was born in 1994, on a snowy day in February.

As he held his daughter for the first time, Mark thought, "As long as I love her, and keep her warm and safe, it is going to be okay".

But, 17 years later, Mark received a phone call that every parent dreads.

"I don't remember exactly what the policeman said, but he told me there was a body, and the body had been identified as Emily," Mark says.

Emily was murdered in 2011 when she was 17 years old. And, while the news of Emily's death dominated headlines, Mark found that those closest to him were awkward, barely acknowledging her death.

The Death podcast: 'We need to acknowledge the dead more'
Photo credit: Newshub

This distance is common when people are around those who are grieving.

"I know people find it hard to confront death, especially when it comes to dealing with someone who is in the depths of grief. But I was surprised at how many people ignored it with me," Mark says.

It's something those who have lost loved ones agree with.

Sophie Hill, who lost her dad to suicide when she was just 19 years old, says well-intentioned friends can say the wrong thing.

The Death podcast: 'We need to acknowledge the dead more'
Photo credit: Newshub

She was told to be grateful for the time she had with her father, which left her feeling that she didn't have a right to feel sad and to grieve. She was also told, "Everything happens for a reason".

Instead, people should just tell the truth - that you're sorry and that you don't know what to say - is the best approach.

Liese Groot-Alberts said friends and family didn't know how to respond to the tragedy of her three-year-old daughter's death, which happened just days after her son was born.

The experience of both joy and sorrow coming so closely together left people in Liese's life confused about how to approach her.

Unable to find the right words, they chose to keep quiet.

"We need to acknowledge the dead more. We also need to do better as a society at taking care of the grieving. To be present for them, to sit with them, to acknowledge them and their loved ones," Mark says.

Death: A podcast about love, grief and hope is available on Rova, iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, Spreaker, and all major podcast platforms.

Newshub.