We are here to provide support to you and your loved ones in any way we can. Below are some of the resources regarding grief.
Grief looks different for every person and for every person, there are many questions. We've compiled information below to help assist you in the process of grieving a loved one.
Grief is the normal, internal feeling one experiences in reaction to a loss, while bereavement is the state of having experienced that loss. Although people often suffer emotional pain in response to loss of anything that is very important to them (for example, a job, a friendship, one’s sense of safety, a home), grief usually refers to the loss of a loved one through death. Grief is quite common, in that three out of four women outlive their spouse, with the average age of becoming a widow being 56 years. More than half of women in the United States are widowed by the time they reach age 65. Every year in the United States, 4% of children under the age of 15 experience the death of a parent.
Although not a formal medical diagnosis, complicated grief refers to a reaction to loss that lasts more than one year. It is characterized by the grief reaction intensifying to affect all of the sufferer’s close relationships, disrupting his or her beliefs, and it tends to result in the bereaved experiencing meaningless and ongoing longing for their deceased loved one. About 15% of bereaved individuals will suffer from complicated grief, and one-third of people already getting mental-health services have been found to suffer from this extended grief reaction.
What is mourning?
As opposed to grief, which refers to how someone may feel the loss of a loved one, mourning is the outward expression of that loss. Mourning usually involves culturally determined rituals that help the bereaved individuals make sense of the end of their loved one’s life and give structure to what can feel like a very confusing time. Therefore, while the internal pain of grief is a more universal phenomenon, how people mourn is influenced by their personal, familial, cultural, and societal beliefs and customs. Everything from how families prepare themselves and their loved ones for death, and understand and react to the passing to the practices for preserving memories of the deceased, their funeral or memorial, burial, cremation or other ways of handling the remains of the deceased is influenced by internal and external factors. The length of time for a formal mourning period and sometimes the amount of bereavement leave people are allowed to take from work is determined by a combination of personal, familial, cultural, and societal factors. Mourning customs also affect how bereaved individuals may feel comfortable gaining support as well as the appropriate ways for their friends and family to express sympathy during this time. For example, cultures may differ greatly in how much or how little the aggrieved individual may talk about their loss with friends, family members, and coworkers and may determine whether or not participating in a bereavement support group or psychotherapy is acceptable.
As hard as it is to cope with the death of a loved one, it is even harder when you lose them to violence or an accident. In the aftermath of a tragedy like this, many people find themselves harboring a lingering bitterness towards society and life in general. Although these wounds are not quick to heal, the love and support of family and friends can help someone accept their loss and put their life back together.
The potential negative effects of a grief reaction can be significant. For example, research shows that about 40% of bereaved people will suffer from some form of anxiety disorder in the first year after the death of a loved one, and there can be an up to 70% increase in death of the surviving spouse within the first six months after the death of his or her partner. For these reasons, questionnaires that assess how much stress a person is experiencing usually places the loss of a loved one at the top of the list of the most serious stresses to endure. When considering the death of a loved one, the effects of losing a pet should not be minimized. Pets are often considered another member of the family, and therefore their loss is grieved as well. Making the decision to euthanize (painlessly put to death) the family pet once a family works with their veterinarian to determine that the pet is suffering as a result of their age, specific illness, and/or general declining health can add stress to the bereavement process by leaving family members feeling guilty initially, but if done properly, can help families understand that they spared their beloved pet unnecessary suffering.
In addition to grief as an initial reaction to loss, the process can be aggravated by events that remind the bereaved individual of their loved one or the circumstances surrounding their loss. Such events are often referred to as grief triggers. Father’s Day or the beginning of the school year may cause the parent who has lost a child (or a child who has lost a parent) to feel distraught. A shared song, television show, or activity can remind the widower of the wife he lost or the child of the grandparent who is no longer living. Watching another child play with a pet may reduce a child whose pet has died to tears.
What are the causes and risk factors of prolonged grief?
The risk factors for experiencing more serious symptoms of grief for a longer period of time can be related to the survivor’s own physical and emotional health before the loss, the relationship between the bereaved and their family member or other loved one, as well as related to the nature of the death. For example, it is not uncommon for surviving loved ones who had a contentious or strained relationship, or otherwise unresolved issues with the deceased to suffer severe feelings of grief. Parents who have lost their child are at a significantly higher risk of divorce compared to couples who have not. They are also at increased risk for a decline in emotional health, including being psychiatrically hospitalized following the loss. This is a particular risk for mothers who have lost a child.
Bereaved individuals who either feel the death of their loved one is unexpected or violent may be at greater risk for suffering from major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complicated grief. Major depression is a psychiatric disorder characterized by depression and/or irritability that lasts at least two weeks in a row and is accompanied by a number of other symptoms, like problems with sleep, appetite, weight, concentration, or energy level and may also lead to the sufferer experiencing unjustified guilt, losing interest in activities he or she used to enjoy, or thoughts of wanting to kill themselves or someone else. PTSD refers to a condition that involves the sufferer enduring an experience that significantly threatened their sense of safety or well being (for example, the suicide or homicide of a loved one), then re-experiencing the event through nightmares or flashbacks (feeling as if the trauma is happening again at times when the sufferer is awake), developing a hypersensitivity to events that are normal (for example, being quite irritable, getting startled very easily, having trouble sleeping, or difficulty trusting others), and avoiding things that remind the person of the traumatic event (for example, people, places, or things that the sufferer may associate with the death of their loved one). Being able to care for a dying loved one tends to promote the healing process for those who are left behind. That care can either be provided at home, in the hospital, or in hospice care. Hospice is a program or facility that provides special care for people whose health has declined to the point that they are near the end of their life. Such programs or facilities also provide special care for their families.
How you can help others through grief
As a friend, you may find yourself comforting someone close to you through an experience like this. Victor Parachin, author of Grief Relief, offers some suggestions on how to comfort a grieving family member or friend during this difficult period.
- Be available to help, even with everyday tasks. Offer to help take care of the pets or to pick up the kids from school.
- Don’t judge what a grieving person may say. They are in pain and don’t always mean what they say. Allow them to express all their feelings.
- Be sensitive and respectful. Don’t trivialize their pain or try to comfort them with cliches like “It was God’s will.”
- Most of all – be patient. People who must suffer through a murder trial or other reminders of a death may need more time to heal.
Talk with your parents Talking with your parents is a vital exercise in ensuring their final wishes will be fulfilled and grief is minimized by everyone.
Talking with your parents can many times resolve deep, personal questions about your family and death. Conversations can release your inner thoughts of grief and fear. Your feelings about death can be discussed with those who love you, and your relationship with your parents and family members can broaden and grow as well, creating some of your most cherished memories.
Use this time to go beyond just talking about money and final wishes alone….Deep personal values and truths can also be shared.
- What is important in life
- Your personal view of the afterlife
- The truth that each person must die
- Legacy or what lives on after a person dies
The most important reason to talk with your parents about these subjects is to be prepared for death. Accidents can and do happen and you never know when you will be left to face these issues. If you want to help your parents when the time comes, you should talk to them now. It will make your family’s future grief a little bit easier.
RR Planning the Trip
The motorcycle road trip has been around as long as there have been motorcycles, each with its own character, and no two trips are ever the same.
And that fact remains, when choosing “Remembering the Ride” Motorcycle Hearse Just as good planning and preparation improve the road trip, Preparation and planning for the final road trip is as detailed and complete as it can be.
We map the ride, pray for good weather, and gather your friends as key components in “Remembering the Ride”. Perhaps there will be a winding processional of your friends and family on their bikes, traveling down a long, lonely stretch of road ,… making this final road trip more about the memorable journey than the destination.
As fellow club members in this life on earth, we will all have to eventually deal with death. Your “Road Captain” on this final ride knows that good planning and previous experience on the road will be a journey long remembered by your family and friends.
Request your own “touring handbook” in preparation of this final road trip. Each handbook gives you space to list the necessary “itinerary” information and includes the personalized planning guidelines.
Our service is unique and exclusive to our company, but available to other funeral homes, should they request it. We are the only Central Illinois company offering “Remembering the Ride” as you see it here, so you will need to request our service by name.
“Remembering the Ride” is currently serving the following counties in Illinois: Macon, Logan, Dewitt,, Piatt, Moultrie, Shelby, Christian and Sangamon.
Special requests, call for quote.
Discussing Death with a Child Experiencing the death of the loved one is painful enough on its own. But having to explain to a child that Daddy or Grandma won’t be here to do fun things with anymore makes the experience all the more difficult. As a parent or significant adult in a child’s life, they will look to you for support, answers and advice while they work their way through their grief and develop an understanding of death. The following information is a guide to help you discuss death with a child.
Explaining Death to a Child
DO be honest about death. As hard as it may be to break the news to a child, honesty is the best policy. It is far worse for a child to accidentally discover the “secret” and then be told “We thought is was best not to tell you.”
DON’T use euphemisms. Explaining death to a child as “Uncle Johnny went on a long trip” or “Grandma Betty is sleeping” may instill fear in the child of going on a trip or to sleep. It is better to explain in simple phrases like “dead means a person’s body has stopped working and won’t work any more.”
DO help children express their feelings. Encourage children to cry out their grief and talk out their thoughts and feelings about death.
DO be a good listener. Like adults, children need to talk about the loss and their feelings connected to it.
DON’T tell a child how to feel. Let a child experience and express grief in their own way.
DO offer continuous love and assurance. Children need to know they are loved to feel secure. By being present and available during the difficult mourning process, parents can help their children bear the pain.
DON’T hide your grief from children. Seeing you grieve will let children know that it is normal and healthy to cry and feel sad after death.
DO invite others to help your children. Often, someone outside the family can provide much needed additional comfort, concern and care.
DON’T assume children will just “get over it.” Whether you are dealing with a young child or adolescent, be proactive and provide all of the comfort and consolation you can.
DO nurture faith but DON’T blame your personal religious God. Often death will draw religious questions from a child. Explaining to a child that “God needed daddy,” or “It was God’s will,” can create future spiritual problems. Instead, remind your child that God shares our pain and will help us get through the crisis.”
Dealing with the Death of a Co-worker
Full-time workers often spend as much or more time with their co-workers then they do their friends and family. Therefore, if a person at work dies, you may find that you are struck with a sense of sadness similar to loosing a family member or close friend.
The extent of your grief will depend on your relationship with your co-worker, your age, your sex, your religious beliefs, your previous experience with grief and a number of other factors. However, most people experience several common emotions such as shock, numbness, anger or even guilt.
Since most working people are under age 65, chances are your co-worker’s death seemed unfair and untimely. As a result, you may feel vulnerable, frightened and depressed, especially if you are in the same age group as your co-worker.
Even if you were not close to your co-worker’s family, attending the funeral can give you a time to say your good-byes and begin the healing process. Your co- worker’s grieving family will probably appreciate your presence and your condolences.
Dealing with Terminal Illness If your loved one suffered from a terminal illness, you probably have been living with death ever since you learned they were sick. Now that they are gone you may find you cannot cry anymore or even experience a sense of relief. This is nothing to feel guilty about. It is normal after a trying experience to be “grieved out” for a while.
During the illness your emotions probably ran the gamut. Everything from denying that your loved one was dying to feeling angry at them for not taking better care of themselves may have crossed you mind.
Other common reactions include bargaining with your personal religious God, offering to be a better person or trade places with your loved one, and blaming the doctors for not being able to cure the disease. You may even feel guilty for not insisting that your loved one see a doctor sooner, for past disagreements, or simply for being healthy when they are dying.
If your loved one kept getting better then suffering relapses, you may have been on an emotional rollercoaster ride, going through painful experiences over and over again. But there is something you can do to help you through this difficult time. Openly communicating your feelings with others can help you relieve at least some of your stress. When you are ready discussing your fear, anger, guilt, depression and other feelings will help.
In time, the grief will diminish. Death may remove the physical presence of a loved one, but they will continue to be a part of your life through the memories and feelings you keep.
Thinking about Cremation ?
As many people choose Cremation for the final disposition, funeral service professionals are striving to give consumers a true sense of what the many creative options are for a funeral service.
Funeral directors today find that people have trouble seeing beyond fewer choices for a ceremony when selecting cremation for themselves or a loved one. Therefore, they request “direct cremation” and miss visiting with the surviving friends and family and an opportunity to honor them with a memorial service.
In actuality, choosing Cremation is only part of the overall experience. In fact, Cremation can actually add to the variety of options when planning a memorable funeral.
Cremation Service Process
Cremation is becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst the baby boomer generation. Among the many reasons for this growing trend is the breadth of options cremation provides for a final memorial service.
Cremation gives people the flexibility to search for types of tributes that reflect the life being honored. But this doesn’t mean that aspects of traditional funeral services have to be discarded. Even with cremation, a meaningful memorial that is personalized to reflect the life of the deceased could include:
- A visitation prior to the service
- An open or closed casket
- Special music
- A ceremony at the funeral chapel, your place of worship or other special location
- Participation by friends and family.
Commonly, cremated remains are placed in an urn and committed to an indoor or outdoor mausoleum or columbarium; interred in a family burial plot; or included in a special urn garden.
Cremation also gives families the option to scatter the remains. This can be done in a designated cemetery garden or at a place that was special to the person. Today, cremated remains can even become part of an ocean reef or made into diamonds.
What ever you choose, cremation or burial, traditional services or contemporary celebrations, your NFDA Funeral Director is there to help you.
Coping with Grief Grief is difficult, but it is a necessary process that must be worked through to cope with the death of a loved one. One of the best ways to start the grieving and healing process is to arrange and/or attend a personalized, meaningful funeral. Funerals confirm that death has occurred and allow survivors to gather and share their grief while supporting each other emotionally. Changing times within funeral serve also provide contemporary options for paying tribute to a life lived.
No matter how uncomfortable or how much you think you don’t need to, it is important to share tears and talk with others about grief. Grief professionals suggest expressing any anger, guilt or fears is critical to helping you through the stages of grief. This release helps you accept what has happened and work through your pain.
It is important for children to understand and accept the death as well. Families are often tempted to “protect” children by concealing a death, but should not because the child may hear it from somewhere else and feel worse than if their family had told them. To learn more on how to talk to children about death, visit the Explaining Death to a Child portion of the NFDA Website.
Suggestions for helping you cope with grief include lightening a heavy schedule while grieving; finding time alone to put things in perspective; and taking care of physical needs by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercise. Physical activity can help offset depression and provide an outlet for emotional energy as well.
While there is no timetable for grief, if you are not coping well, you should consider asking a clergy person, doctor or funeral director to suggest a counselor. If nothing else, you may be relieved to discover that they are coping normally. Most funeral directors are also able to refer a self-help group for survivors.
Finally, remember in time, grief will diminish. While your loved one is no longer physically with you, they live on in your heart and in your memories.
Chasing the “blues” away Feelings of sadness and depression always follow the loss of someone you love. Here are some natural techniques the bereaved can use to ease the blues:
- Only do what feels right. It’s up to you to decide which activities, traditions or events you can handle. Don’t feel obligated to participate in anything that doesn’t feel doable. Grieving takes time. You are very vulnerable right now, so all you need to do is get through the day or week or season – in a healthy way. Try not to think much beyond that.
- Accept your feelings – whatever they might be. Everyone takes his or her own path in grief and mourning. Some may try to avoid sad feelings; others will be bathed in tears. Some feel bad that they aren’t up for enjoying a holiday, others feel guilt because they are feeling joy. However you feel, accept it. And accept the inevitable ups and downs. You may feel peaceful one minute and gut-wrenchingly sad the next. Try to stay in tune with your own highest truth and you will know how to get through the holiday without judging yourself or others.
- Call on your family and friends. Talk with loved ones about your emotions. Be honest about how you’d like to do things this year – if you want to talk about those who have passed, then do so, and let others know it’s OK. Take a buddy to events for support and create an “escape plan” together in case you need to bow out quickly. Read books about getting through the holidays after loss, and seek out support groups, lectures or faith-community events. Seek professional support from a therapist. Stay in touch with others who are grieving via online groups and connections with friends.
- Focus on the kids. Many holidays place special attention on children, and it often helps to focus on their needs. Realize that your choices around getting through the holidays may affect the children in your family. If you withdraw, they may not understand why you don’t want to join family festivities. Perhaps you can participate in the family rituals or gatherings that are most important to the kids, and excuse yourself when you reach your limit.
- Plan ahead. Sometimes the anticipation is worse than the actual holiday. Create comforting activities in the weeks approaching a holiday so that you have something to look forward to rather than building up a dread of the pain the holiday could bring. New activities might be easier, but familiar traditions might be comforting as well — do what feels best for you. Surrounding yourself with positivity can be very helpful.
- Scale back. If the thought of many holiday activities feels painful, overwhelming or inappropriate this year, cutting back may help. For example, you might opt for minimal decorations at home and take a break from sending holiday greetings, or try e-greetings instead of the more time-consuming task of mailing greeting cards. You could limit holiday parties to small gatherings with your closest friends and family. Do whatever feels safe and comfortable to you. Create realistic expectations for yourself and others, but above all be gentle with yourself.
- Give. It’s amazing how in times of grief, sometimes the biggest comfort is to give to others. We often feel paralyzed by the sheer emotion — sadness, feelings of helpless or hopelessness. In times of loss, we often want to do something that will make a difference. Consider these options:
- If you’ve lost a loved one, gift-giving at holiday times may be a challenge. Shopping for gifts and seeing the perfect gift for someone you know you will never be able to give a gift to again can be devastating. Shopping online may be a better option for you.
- You might purchase something that symbolizes the person or time before your loss and donate it to a needy family. Or make a donation in a loved one’s name to a charity or cause he or she cherished. Try channeling your energies in positive ways to create good in the world,rather than perpetuate the negative. Volunteer to help people in some way that is related to that which has caused such anguish. Give of your time and talents or make a donation to a related charity.
- Acknowledge those who have passed on. When we are grieving a loss of someone very close to us, it can be helpful to participate in a related holiday ritual in his or her memory. Some ideas: lighting candles for them, talking about them, buying children’s toys or books to donate in their name, dedicating a service to them, planting a tree, making a card or writing a letter, displaying their picture or placing an item of theirs among holiday decorations.
- Do something different. Acknowledge that things have changed; indeed, the holiday will not be the same as it was ever again. Accepting this will help manage expectations. Plan new activities, especially the first year after the loss. Go to a new location for family celebrations, change the menu or go out to eat, volunteer, invite friends over, attend the theater, travel … create new memories. Many families return to their usual routines and rituals after the first year, but some enjoy incorporating their new experiences permanently. article by Amy Goyer, AARP
Coming to Terms with Suicide
When someone close to you dies, it’s difficult to let go. If the death was unexpected-the result of an accident, for example- it’s even harder to accept. When your loved one chooses to end his or her own life, accepting the death can seem impossible.
If someone you loved or knew well recently committed suicide, the normal symptoms of grief may be heightened. Shock and denial are common emotions experienced by friends and family of a suicide victim. Often this manifests into insisting that the death was an accident, despite all evidence to the contrary.
You may even become angry, feeling that someone should have seen warning signs and prevented the suicide. Or perhaps you’re angry with your loved one for killing himself or herself and causing you such sorrow. If your loved one’s emotional turmoil had made him or her difficult to handle, you may be struggling with guilt over the relief of not having to deal with that stress any more. All of these are normal reactions, especially for parents and spouses.
Using the word “suicide” is an important step in coming to terms with your loss. If you find that your grief is too intense to handle on your own, self-help groups, such as a local chapter of Ray of Hope Inc., can provide the support you need to work through your feelings. By accepting the truth, you can begin the healing process after such a tragic loss.