Grief & Healing.
Below are some Questions that bereaved people have often asked us about dealing with grief & healing. It is a list of 13 ways to assist you in coping with grief after loss. Crane Funerals offer these suggestions in the hope that they may give you a certain peace of mind during the journey through your personal grief process. Our aim is to not only provide the best funeral plans we can, but also to help teach people how to deal with the stages of grief.
If you feel that you require professional grief counselling, or a mental health and wellbeing expert, Crane Funerals have a select support group available to assist you. As such if you require further advice during bereavement contact us on 5977 7198, or 04477CRANE and we would be happy to guide you to a professional in your vicinity.
What are the symptoms of grief?
Grief is the term given to our feelings following a personal loss of any kind and it is perfectly natural. One of the most obvious and difficult types of grief occurs after the death of a loved one. We all tend to find our own way of dealing with grief, and while we never forget our loved ones, the end aim of the grieving process is to adjust somehow to our loss. At Crane Funerals we believe that the dearly departed would want those left behind to grieve for a little while, but to also remember the good times as much as possible, and adapt to a new life well lived. They cared for us during their lives and we like to think they would feel no different in death.
During the journey of bereavement, you may experience some or all of the following list of 12 symptoms of grief:
• Lack of energy
• Fatigue and / or excessive sleeping
• The desire to overwork yourself or become excessively active when before you were not
• Memory lapses
• Being distracted and preoccupied with simple things
• Depression and / or “high” feelings of euphoria
• “Finding” Religion or turning your back on it
• Resignation to the situation
How can I manage my grief?
One of the recommended actions is to express your loss and grief, and this can be done in different ways, depending on your personal values, culture and circumstances involved.
Struggling with grief and bereavement does not make you weak and nor does it mean that you possess poor coping skills. Instead, it is suggested that grief is a healthy and normal part of the healing process.
Your routine, moods, habits, hopes, beliefs, and outlook on life will all change. This is simply a part of adapting to loss. Even members of the same family will show grief and change in different ways. Understanding that managing grief after death is a personal process – navigated at a different pace by each of us – can help you to understand your own actions and emotions as well as the coping methods of others.
How long does grief last?
How long is a piece of string? The process of grieving lasts as long as it takes you to emerge from the other side of it. Especially when you lose someone very special to you the grief probably never really “ends” – you just learn to carry on – but you will never forget. In this way grief and loss can become part of your life, but the feelings of intense pain will gradually reduce over time.
Grief can return unexpectedly – triggered by little things like hearing a song, seeing a photo, family gatherings during the holidays, or smelling a fragrance that reminds you of the person you have lost. Just remember that this too is normal, and don’t be hard on yourself in this situation.
Gradually these waves of grief will subside. Eventually you will be able to laugh again and remember the life and good times with your loved one rather than just their passing.
Am I weak to show grief?
Grief should not be seen as a sign of weakness. Even if it feels impossible to you now, most people eventually deal with their loss in their own way. You too will find a way.
Don’t put a time frame on your grief. This can create unrealistic expectations on yourself – don’t forget that we all grieve differently. You need to deal with your situation in your way.
Crane Funerals provides this list of 7 general strategies to assist with your grieving:
- Talking about it (to help let your loss sink in).
- Tears (tears show grief while allowing you a way to begin releasing it).
- Look after yourself (diet / sleeping habits; avoid alcohol and sedatives; get fresh air).
- Ask for help (don’t think you have to cope all alone).
- Help your friends understand (share your grief and feelings so they can adapt with you).
- Beware “advice” givers (don’t be enticed into “replacing” your grief – e.g. going on holidays or buying a new car or boat).
- Prepare for the ups and downs (memories sparked by birthdays, anniversaries etc will often bring the grief back to us. Try to find a way to remember the person that brings you comfort – maybe you could visit a favourite place you used to share, or watch a movie you both used to laugh at, and of course visiting the cemetery if a memorial is in place.
How do I cope with the loss of a spouse?
Few events in life compare to the death of a spouse. You may well be uncertain that you will survive this overwhelming loss. You could doubt that you have the energy or even the desire to heal and go on.
This grieving journey is often frightening, overwhelming and terribly lonely. This was your companion, and your life partner. The death of a spouse at a young age can be particularly difficult, especially if you have just started your family.
The spousal relationship is certainly a unique one – nobody else had the same relationship you had with your spouse. Your grief will be influenced by the circumstances surrounding their death, your emotional support system, and your cultural / religious upbringing.
Don’t compare your experience with that of others. Don’t make assumptions about how long your grief should last. The loss of a spouse in the elderly is a very personal heartache which can be made even more difficult due to dwindling sizes of support groups later in our lives. The best thing Crane Funerals can suggest is to take things one day at a time and grieve at your own unique pace.
How do I cope with the loss of parent?
No matter our age – or theirs – losing a parent changes our lives. Strong feelings of grief and loss still result. Even when the death is expected through old age or debilitating illness, it can have a strong emotional impact.
Mixed emotions of sadness, relief, anger, and guilt may arise. If you were close and have been used to consulting with them prior to major life decisions, you will miss being able to seek their advice. Conversely, if your relationship with your parents was difficult, their death marks the passing of your chance to repair the relationship. Either way, after the loss of a parent, chat rooms and social media can be constructive arenas to seek solace. Of course face to face discussions with relatives and friends are generally better and more comforting whenever possible.
Losing a parent, even after a long and full life, packs a strong emotional punch. Healing will only take place after recognising your feelings and allowing yourself time to grieve.
How do I cope with the loss of a child?
As parent’s we don’t normally expect to experience the death of a child. All the hopes, dreams, and aspirations you held during pregnancy end – heartbreakingly. Whether the death is sudden, or due to prolonged illness, the loss of a child is perhaps the most inconsolable of all losses to deal with. Parents may harbour feelings of guilt and sometimes a sense of responsibility for the death of their child.
When a child dies, the parents role as care giver and mentor ends. Described by many as the most intense grief you can experience – involving a sweeping range of emotions including guilt, disbelief, and anger. A parents grief can manifest into an inability to eat or sleep, and can lead to a whole range of emotional and physical problems.
Children show us new ways to love, new things to celebrate, and new ways look to at the world around us. Joyful moments you spent with your child and the love you shared will live on and always be a part of you – but the grieving will of course be difficult.
Acknowledging your child’s death – as well as your lost hopes and dreams for their future and yours – is important for the grieving process. It can be comforting and therapeutic to share your grief and feelings with others who have suffered similar losses, via online support groups or church groups or similar that you may be involved in.
How to cope with the sudden death of a loved one?
The sudden death of a loved one can leave us feeling shaken, confused and vulnerable. Additional grief can stem from the fact that we had little or no opportunity to prepare for the loss, say good-bye, or because we had unfinished business with the deceased. A loss without warning of course involves shock and trauma for families and friends. The usual gamut of grief responses such as anger, disbelief, anxiety, sadness, fear, and hopelessness will be felt but it a much more immediate and incredulous manner. Physical symptoms may also present themselves in this situation – nausea, insomnia, anxiety and confusion. A strong support system will be particularly important in this situation. Helping families and friends cope with sudden death is both difficult and rewarding. As with other forms of intense grief, a good therapist may be needed to assist with coming to terms with your loss and moving forward.
What should I say to a grieving friend?
It is difficult to know just what to say to someone who’s grieving. Some people may even avoid the funeral and their grieving friend all together. Unfortunately this can leave the person suffering from grief confused – “where was John today”? A good friend – even when confused – will reach out in an attempt to console a grieving friend.
The best thing you can to do is allow them to cry and show their real feelings. Chat about the person who has died and listen to the circumstances of their death even if it does make you uncomfortable. Just be there with your friend, and for them. No magic words will heal the pain, but this simple act can be a great comfort to the grieving person. Allowing your friend the opportunity to get out what they’ve been keeping inside is a special gift; more comforting for them – and rewarding for you – than a bunch of flowers for example.
What not to say to a grieving friend can include well meaning comments like “be brave” or “be strong”. You don’t want to encourage your friend to bottle up their emotions. Remember too that even if you have experienced a similar loss in your own life, you can never really know exactly how your friend is feeling, so it is best to avoid “I know how you feel”. Even with the best of intentions you may say something that triggers anger in your friend. Remember that this too is part of their grieving process and don’t hold it against them – just ride out the storm as best you can.
Practical help such as buying groceries or cooking meals can be a lovely thing to do for a friend in need just as much as talking to them. Do this in the days straight after the death, and also in the months to come when the real effect of their loss may be strongest. Things such as this can really console a grieving friend.
What to say to a child that is grieving?
Like us, children react to the news of death in an individual way. The grieving child might say, “it’s not true” or lash out at those around them. As opposed to the sadness often seen in adults, wanting to be left alone or being full of questions might be more common in some children.
Always remember to be honest in what you say to the children. Share your own emotions towards grief and remember to be patient. Children need clear and honest answers to their questions, even the difficult ones.
A warm cuddle and some quiet time together can help to allay a child’s sense of fear or uncertainty about the changes happening around them. Children need their own time to adjust just the same as adults do.
Don’t hide your tears from children – your grief shows them that they need not be ashamed when expressing their own. If they don’t have good role models then they may learn unhelpful ways of coping with grief like masking their true feelings, or believing that they must bear in silence the pain, confusion, questions, anger, or fear.
Are there more difficult days and times during the grieving process?
Of course occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays can be extra difficult times. You and your family or friends might decide to do things differently and develop new traditions on these days. You can think of new ways to remember the person who has died. Lighting a candle in memory of your loved one on their birthday for example can be a way to remember their life on this special day.
Is a permanent memorial important for coping with grief?
A permanent memorial can indeed help you through the grieving process. When a loved one is buried at a cemetery of their or your choosing, it establishes a place where loved ones can always visit to sit in quiet contemplation. The same can be said for a memorial area that houses a loved ones cremated remains. This can be very important at times such as Mother’s or Father’s Day, or Christmas. It can be very comforting for people dealing with grief to have such a place to visit. At other times a family may feel that this kind of memorial is the “done thing”, and rarely if ever visit it at all.
Crane Funerals advises families to choose a place that is significant for them. You should not feel forced into a certain plot or niche in a cemetery for example. Even though these places are often beautiful, other options may be open to you. If your loved one had a favourite area in the country or a place they loved to go fishing or sightseeing for example, then you may decide to scatter at least part of their ashes there. This is not as such a “permanent” memorial (the ashes over time will scatter far and wide), however the place itself will always be there. The whole idea is to give your deceased loved one peace – and what better way to achieve this than scattering their ashes in a place where they always felt happy and at peace during life? Of course this is not for everyone, but options are always a good thing. Some memorials are traditional and expensive, others are more personal and affordable – each bereaved family is entitled to make their own decision.
Over the years we have heard many stories of how Mum or Dad or Uncle Joe is “in the back of the wardrobe”. While we don’t necessarily recommend keeping your loved ones ashes in the back of the cupboard, if having your loved one at home with the family is more your type of memorial then Crane Funerals encourages you to do just that. If you require an urn for your loved ones ashes there are options available to you on our urns & keepsakes page. At your request we can help you narrow the choices down.