Avoid the impulse to give a grieving person space. Reach out without the expectation of a prompt reply, says etiquette expert Margaret Shepherd. When it comes to acknowledging death, we’re often puerile and ill at ease. Despite being desperate to console a loved one, we find ourselves anxious and stammering for the right words. Margaret Shepherd, author of The Art of Civilized Conversation: A Guide to Expressing Yourself with Style and Grace, believes talking about death is still taboo in Western society because many people have never had to deal with it directly. “It happens in a hospital or when they’re not there, so they’re talking about something they don’t know about personally and it makes them uncertain, ” she explains in a call from her home in Boston. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Seven Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 40 Bare Necessities An overview of topless etiquette. Arts & Culture Issue 38 Alua Arthur Death doula Alua Arthur talks to Kyla Marshell about preparing for life's final ritual. Arts & Culture Issue 38 Seeing the Light The aftermath of almost dying. Arts & Culture Issue 46 Samuel Ross Art, fashion, lifestyle: Samuel Ross has seen the future and it’s got his name all over it. Arts & Culture Food Issue 46 At Work With: Deb Perelman The little blog that could: An interview with Smitten Kitchen’s unflappable founder. Arts & Culture Issue 46 Word: Wintering When to withdraw from the world.