How to Face Grief and Loss

Facing Grief and Loss and
Putting Life’s Storms into Perspective

On a back to school shopping event with my daughter, we were drawn to display after display of beautiful pieces of costume jewelry. An elderly woman laden with packages passed by commenting on how tired she was feeling. She found a quiet spot to rest nearby, still holding her packages. I asked if she was alright or needed any help. She assured me she was fine, she just needed to rest. We continued to converse. The woman mentioned how thoughtful it was that I took the time to inquire of her well being. She said that I must not be from around here. I told her I lived 3 hours away in a neighboring state. As she spoke, I noticed some of her words and letters were not spoken clearly. Watching closely, I saw that she did not have any teeth. Her clothing was in good repair, but subtly stained, as if in need of being laundered. I admired a necklace with small charms from the display case. The woman was intrigued with the charm necklace and thought it would be perfect for me.

The next words she spoke caught me off guard. She asked me if I had ever been a victim of a house raid. She explained to me that everything she owned had been stolen. She had loved her porcelain doll collection that was now gone. Her brother was involved in drugs, and came into her house with his friends, and took all her possessions. She mentioned he had taken her dentures because she would not give him any money. She apologized to me for her appearance. Even though she had no teeth, and an empty house, she had a strong resolve. She was kind, grateful, and determined that her brother was not going to break her spirit. My heart went out to the small woman. I found myself watching her around the store as she moved on from her brief rest. The checkout lines were long. My daughter and I helped her get through the line so she was not struggling alone. Shortly thereafter, we headed our separate ways. I think of that sweet little woman often, especially when I wear the charm necklace I purchased that day. I have one regret however, I wish I would have asked the woman her name and contact information.

I tell this story because each of us weather various storms in our lives that affect our perspective. This can alter how we react to those experiences, and how we move forward. Our life’s encounters, as difficult and painful as they are at times help us to build resilience. We pray to find small rays of hope even in times of sadness. We may have to dig deep to find any hope, when there is little hope in front of us. Determination kicks in, and helps us keep trudging forward, so we can carry our emotional burdens.

Putting Life’s Storms into Perspective

Putting life’s storms into perspective is a conscious effort. When we are overcome with sadness or grief it can be difficult to continue the daily climb, and keep looking forward. Each of us have experienced a moment when it feels as if all hope is lost. How do we move past the grief and loss? How do we move forward again? Losing a loved one, a friend, facing a debilitating disease, divorce, or a job change, can tax the strongest hearts and minds. Even when carrying an umbrella, the storm is sometimes too strong and difficult to weather. What can be done to put the challenges into perspective?

Almost 20 years ago, I faced a storm in my own life. Being a strong person I had always believed I could handle whatever was thrown my way. I have learned to never assume. I was brought to my knees, facing a trial of loss that was numbing. A gray cloud settled over my life. I cried at the drop of a hat, and felt like I was wearing concrete shoes up a steep mountain path. Day after day, it felt like the sun would not shine again. Tackling the daily routine was a difficult feat.

The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm

I was inspired during that time to put pencil to paper and write. After months and months of writing, I wrote The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm. The story is about a wondrous tree that in a fierce storm loses a branch. The family who visited the tree, was very sad about the lost branch, so they come up with creative plan. They decide to build a swing with the broken branch, so the branch would be with the tree once more. The story’s message helped heal my heart. I was able to move forward again. My concrete shoes came off, I was not crying all the time, and it helped me by coping with loss.  It allowed me put the storm I was facing into perspective. I realized that life would not always stay exactly like I wanted it to stay. Change and loss are beyond our control. As difficult as my experience was, I had to force myself to rise above the grief. I needed to remain strong for those around me. So when life sends its storms, I now find my swing. In my swing I can sit and ponder, treasure great memories of those I love who have moved on, make future plans when my life needs direction, or just think about a sweet, elderly lady who touched my heart.

I have learned how important it is to not only put our own life’s storm’s into perspective, but to also be conscious of others who may be battling their own storm. In hind sight I always wished I would have given a copy of the book The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm to the woman in the store. Maybe it would have given her a moment of hope and inspiration. I hope each of you finds hope and promise in your future and can, in time, build your own swing.

The story The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm has won numerous awards. The message offers children and their families a sense of hope and promise for the future. In the aftermath of life’s storms the sun will continue to rise every day. Our perspective on life will in time find a ray of sunshine, that will chase gray clouds away, to give each of us hope for the future.

The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm can be purchased at www.lauriecopmann.com.  For more helpful information, use this link to learn more about the five stages of grief.

About Laurie Copmann, Author and Educator

Laurie Copmann is the principal of an elementary school. She has a Master’s degree in Administration and a Master’s degree in Counseling. She loves working with children and encouraging them to be confident individuals, excellent citizens, and to strive for high academic achievement. She writes stories for children in hopes of inspiring them to reach their potential, with the belief that anything is possible. Laurie lives in Idaho with her husband, two children and a dog named Tux the Terrible.

How to Cope with Grief

How to Cope with Grief and
the Barrier to Grief

What do we mean by grief?

Coping with the grief and loss of someone you love can be one of life’s biggest challenges.  In fact, the barrier to grief can be utterly overwhelming. Grieving is the natural human process by which we begin to come to terms with our grief and loss.

We all grieve in our own way

We all cope with grief and loss in different ways. Some people want to hide away quietly, others want to be busy and begin organizing. Some people surprise themselves that they appear to feel nothing at all. Others are waiting for the right time.

None of these are right or wrong.

The barrier to grief

As a counsellor in Tunbridge Wells working with grief and bereavement, one thing I have come to find is that most people who are newly bereaved are fighting a battle on two fronts. They are not only trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, they are also faced with their own, often life-long, processes of coping with the barrier to grief.

Their own methods for keeping safe can actually get in the way of allowing them to grieve now.   Therefore, it is very common that when we go to counseling for help with grief and loss, we are first of all faced with ourselves; “I can’t cry”, “I can’t stop crying”, “I’m having panic attacks”.

Each of us will have had a unique upbringing with different messages through which we learned different ways to think, feel, or be in order to be loved, praised, accepted; “Chin up, men don’t cry, get on with it.”, “Don’t be so selfish, think how hard this is for …!”, “Are you still upset about that?”. With messages like these, is it any surprise that so many people find it hard to process loss.

Thinking back to all those times you heard similar messages, I wonder if you can remember what you would have liked to have heard, how you would have liked to be treated. Now with those new messages in mind, is there room for a little self-nurture today? Can you say those messages or ask to be treated differently while you embrace this difficult time?

When it comes to coping with grief, and the barrier to grief, there is no right way. There is no time limit. You are allowed to feel whatever you feel.

Coping With Grief and Loss

Grief and Loss

When Coping With Grief and Loss,

Consider Grief Counseling, Support, and Books

Grief is a human way to deal with the feelings of love that we believe have ended.  Another way of defining grief is the normal and natural reaction to significant emotional loss of any kind.

There is no one way to grieve.  As we all are individual, we all grieve different and often turn towards grief support groups.  Also, our society at large does not have a general way to honor grief. Since we are a society that is always struggling with time management and high demands, taking time to grieve or knowing how to grieve is not part of our system. However, religion often fills this gap in our society.

Each religion has rituals to follow for grief and how to grieve a loss. These rituals can provide us with a way to get through the initial shock of grief, but as many people know who have been through a loss, that when the rituals of religion end there is still grief and the adjustment of loss with which to deal.

There are many different opinions about grief such as “time heals all wounds“, and many believe you can actually break this emotional experience into five stages of grief.   It is important to keep in mind that depending on the individual and their personal situation, many of these opinions or “myths” about grief, or even recommendations from some of the top grief books, can actually slow down or prevent some people from moving beyond their pain.

Where Should You Seek Grief Support?

When it comes to the most of the important things in our lives, seeking group or professional help can usually provide some of the best possible information, support, and direction. The two most common types of professional help families seek to help cope with grief and loss are Grief Counseling and Life Coaching.

How Can Grief Counseling Help?

Grief Counseling

Funeral Directors wear numerous hats, and are expected to accomplish many important things in a short period of time, while facing many funeral planning challenges. Families are grieving and have important decisions to make under much duress. They may often expect a degree of emotional support that some Funeral Directors may not have the time or skills to be able to provide.

Through grief counseling and working with a Life Coach, these added levels of emotional support and expertise can very often help families bridge and offer the help that most families are searching for.

Five Powerful Ways a Life Coach Can Help Families:

1.  Offer the support needed to get through this sorrowful time.
2.  Help families develop a short term, “what’s next”, plan for their lives.
3.  Help families establish new or revised long term life goals pertaining to work, school, relationships, hobbies and general wellness.
4.  Provide families with hope, motivation and direction to take control of their lives in the new role that they inherited as a result of their loss.
5.  Some families can turn to and listen, since many times what is most needed most in a time of sorrow and confusion is just simply listening.

Grief Counseling is one of the fastest growing trends in self improvement, wellness and life in general. By offering this level of grief support and Life Coaching services; you are keeping your business relevant, and fulfilling your potential to better serve your families.

Coaching is not therapy or counseling. A therapist would be recommended if your client is particularly overwhelmed and unable to cope with their grief.  Another popular and healing option is to consider using grief message boards, which is where people who are have experienced similar losses gather together online to talk in real-time via the Internet.

What is a Grief Recovery Outreach Program?

If you have experienced one or more losses, and you wish to move beyond the pain, this type of program offers step by step actions that will help you overcome your grief. It is the only program of its kind and has helped thousands of people worldwide recover from their heartbreak.

In summary, there are many ways to work through things like grief, loss, or even a crisis. There is help available to those who are grieving a loss, and we strongly suggest you consider seeking professional help in addition to some of the other excellent options mentioned above.

 
Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com

Remembering Fathers

Grief and Loss

For Those Who Have Lost Their Father

Finding ways to remember the happy times and keeping a father’s memory alive, even long after he has passed, can be challenging but rewarding.  This is especially true for younger generations. Telling funny stories or sharing memories about Grandpa or Great Granddad will help future generations to feel connected to their roots and get a true sense of the importance of family.

Given the advent of the Internet and new technology, we strongly suggest you learn more about today’s new memorial technology tools to help remember a loved one.  These new tools can also assist with the grief and loss process.

On special days such as birthdays and Father’s Day, we hope those who have lost their father may find comfort in this beautiful poem from our Preferred Provider, Grief Haven.

 

Coping with Fathers Death

Coping with Loss

How to Cope with the Loss of a Father

My three boys, who are four, six and ten, lost their father last year.  Since he has passed away, we have been working our way through the holidays.  How do I help them cope with Fathers Day?

A child can celebrate Father’s Day even though they have lost their father. When a person dies it does not mean all the love they have given to people just disappears. A father leaves a lasting imprint on the children he leaves behind. Helping the children remember this love will be important to them as they grow older. One of the most common things people in western society tend to do is act like a person never lived once they have died. Remembering Father’s Day will help keep a fathers memory stay alive.

Here are some things to help kids who are coping with grief and loss to celebrate Father’s Day, even after he has passed away:

Share a Memory: Since the age of the boys are spread out from four years old to 10 years old the way they communicate will differ. However they all can share their story of their father. The other boy can write down a memory from his father that made him feel loved. The six and four year can drawn a picture of a time they shared with their father that made them feel happy and loved. These pictures can be shared with their father and family on Father’s Day.

Make a Card: The boys can all make a card for their father. The card can be filled with how they are feeling with the loss of their mom. Once the cards are completed they can be put out at her graveside or sent up in a balloon if he was cremated.

Plant a Flower: Planting funeral flowers in memory can help the boys watch their love grow. Help them pick out a flower that means something to them and plant it in a cup. When the weather warms up they can plant their flowers outside and talk about the memories of their father. In the fall they can dry the flower(s) and hang them up in their room as a lasting memory through the winter.

Create a Memory Book: Adults in the boys’ life can help them start a memory book. The book would last until they are adults. Every year on Father’s Day the boys can add something to their book about their previous year. These events they would add would be the ones they felt they would want to share with their dad if he were here. For example a good report card, awards from sports, and other achievements that they were proud about.

The important thing to remember is to keep talking to the children about their father. Tell them stories about her that you remember. Ask other adults to share their stories as well. Maybe have the adults write the stories down and add it to the memory book if one is created. Then when the boys are older or they are missing their dad they can always go read the book.

Are you looking for others with whom you can relate? Visit the Beyond Indigo forums to connect with others who are on their grief journeys.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Death, Grief and Loss

Coping with Grief

The Simplicity of Blessings

Death can make us aware of the importance of life. When a person is a funeral director, he or she is surrounded by death. Many believe that blessings can arise out of grief and loss. As a society, we most often focus on the negative aspects of death. At FuneralResources.com, we choose to focus on the positive aspects of death. Here are some things I have learned that might help you and your families:

Everyday Life: Grief often brings into focus our daily life that we assume will “always” be the same. What we might take for granted now can come into full bloom when contrasted with death. Our families, our loved ones and our health start taking on far more importance and they are treasured far more. Material concerns have a chance during a loss to take a second seat. We get back to basics and realize what we have is good. What a blessing.

Hidden Angels: People can be a blessing. As we walk through the five stages of grief, people come into our lives to help ease our pain. A member of Beyond Indigo wrote:

“One of the things I remember most about my horrible summer in hell were three people I met who were walking angels. Each of them, in their own way, made that summer bearable and is remembered now, after it has passed, as huge blessings. I’m actually glad I met them even though I met them only because of the situation, which was causing such grief.”

Look On The Bright Side: Things could be worse. As trite as it sounds, it is true. Life can always be worse. Looking at what occurred as a positive can bring new thoughts to the surface.

Another Beyond Indigo member wrote to us about her pregnancy. She was 21 weeks pregnant when her doctors told her that the baby would not survive the cyst that had become part of its little body.  She wrote, “Obviously, the RIGHT ending would have been for me to have a good, wonderful pregnancy that ended with a healthy baby. Wasn’t going to happen.  Options like having a kid with horrible life-affecting illnesses and handicaps, or having a stillbirth, or worst – not knowing and having to make a choice.  I ended up knowing what I had to do. I was able to end the pregnancy without wondering if I was making the right choice. That was a huge blessing.”

Opportunities: Death is permanent. Once a death occurs, it is hard to say,” I am sorry”, or, “I love you”. It reminds us that we have the opportunity to tell others that we love them or that we are sorry or how important they are in our lives. Take this blessing of time to let others in your life know how important they are to you. Do it now, and don’t wait.

Search: Search out others that have recently lost a loved one or acquaintance. Share your story, you thoughts, your feelings and your concerns and insights with them. Sharing, or volunteering to help someone else feel better will help you both.

Celebrate: Celebrate any occasion, any holiday or special event with a friend and share all the joys of the person lost. Remember well, and then go ahead and enjoy the day, the hour and the moment. NOW is what we all have.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Bereavement and Grief

Grief and Loss

Inside the Grief Space

People who are coping with grief and loss are definitely operating out of a different place then people who are not grieving. I call this the “Grief Space”. Within this space different thoughts and feelings are occurring to the grieving person than occur to those that are not grieving. If you could see this ‘space’, and experiencing the five stages of grief, it would look like a bubble that surrounds the person. If you could look into this bubble you would find:

Limited Awareness of physical events: Grieving people who are coping with loss tend not to be too aware of their physical surroundings nor do they care as much about doing so. If the house stays dirty or they forget to eat it doesn’t cross their own internal radar. People can lose awareness of national events, local happenings and family news. It just blurs together. I have even heard of people breaking bones and not being aware of the pain from the break.

Acute Awareness of Emotions: People who are grieving are in acute emotional pain. This pain, most likely, is the worse, intense emotional pain they have ever felt. They know that they are in pain and don’t know what to do with it. Grieving people are highly aware of how other people react to their (the grieving person’s) grief. They know when people are not comfortable with the concept of death and the emotional loss that follows it. They know when others are uncomfortable with intense emotions that are being displayed.

Blurring the Hands of Time: Time is a subjective concept for people who are grieving. On one hand, every minute is a painful reminder that their loved one is no longer with them. The days can drag and their mind is full of the grief and loss that they have just suffered. On the other hand people lose track of time when it comes to non-emotional aspects of their life (eating, drinking water, working out, paying bills, mowing the lawn, etc.).

How to connect with families while they are grieving

Remember that you are seeing people when their bereavement and grief are the most intense. People at this point in their grief journey are not functioning well or at all. Here are some thoughts for you to keep in mind while speaking to families during this time.

1. Be aware of your concept of death: Remember that families can tell when you are not comfortable with the thought of loss. They will be expecting pleasant platitudes because what else do people say? Your families will know when you truly are not afraid of deep emotions, yet are able to guide them through the practical aspects of taking care of business. Word will spread that you understand and care.

2. Listening to your family: When listening to the grieving person tell his or her story, allow silent spaces in the conversation. Silence is helpful but sometimes hard for the listener. It is acceptable to rephrase what you heard from those grieving. This will let the family members know you are listening to them and they will feel understood.

3. Keep checking in with your families: After the funeral, your part in helping them through their loss is completed, but for the family their grief journey has just begun. After a funeral, most people stop talking about the loss and act like it hasn’t happened. By avoiding the loss, people don’t have to deal with the hard emotional issues that surround it. Grieving people want to talk about their loss. This is their grief space. Their loss fills this space. Call the families once in a while or send a note in the mail. This is a marvelous way to provide aftercare, and maintain a relationship with your families.

A memorial website is another great way to keep in touch with families.  These new memorial technology tools do not require great time commitments from your staff. With the proper software, your website becomes the 24×7 employee who keeps in touch with your families.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Talking About Death and Dying

 Grief and Loss

How to Talk to a Friend Who is Dying

Conversations to have with a dying friend: 1. Ask your friend what she believes will happen when she dies. This is can be a hard subject to broach since we have not been socialized to talk about death. In fact, we have been trained that this topic should be avoided whenever possible. Just take the first step and ask, “What do you think happens when you die?” Feel free to start the conversation with your own beliefs on death and dying. Let it be known you are open to discussing life and death issues but, remember, people do not like to be pushed. 2. Share books with each other on the subject. Start a small book club that reads about death and dying issues. There are many excellent grief books today on this subject which range from spiritual beliefs to after death communications. Talk about what you have read and share your personal views on the subject. 3. Celebrate the lives you have lived. Talk about life as you and your friend have lived it. What have been the greatest experiences? What have been the hardest ones? Share the joys and the loves that have come into your lives. Assess your current blessings.

4. Discuss options about care for terminally ill planning. People who are dying have said some of the best days of their lives had been the ones leading up to their deaths because they really felt alive. With this in mind it is particularly important to choose what type of medical care you want if you become sick or debilitated. As a friend, you can be the sounding board for your friend. If there is illness talk about the disease openly and discuss the various options. Will a certain treatment improve the quality of life? Many treatments make a person sicker then the actual illness. 5. Laugh together but be serious and honest as well. Death does not have to be the serious, fear-based subject that we think it is. Laughter is good for the soul as well as to soothe one’s grief and loss. Remember to laugh at the things you and your friends fear. Talk about seeing each other on the ‘other side’ and perhaps saving you a seat in a garden or on the beach or at a favorite sports event. Above all, remember to love and cherish your friend. If you can approach from a place of grace your friend will feel your kindness and open heart. When you are sure of yourself and not fearful your friends will feel calmer and be in a better place to explore this issue with you.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Wearing Wedding Rings After Death and Memorial Diamonds

 Grief and Loss

Wearing of Wedding Rings

After the Loss of a Spouse

How to expand your horizons after a loss but still integrate the memory of our loved one is a common theme. A normal process through our grief and loss journey is how to integrate the loss into our lives. One of the symbols of your past is yours and your spouse’s wedding rings. Changing how you display them is one way to help you transition to the future. The key is to pick something that feels “right” to you. There are many options and we suggest you be creative. We have outlined some suggestions below that might “fit” you.

Change where you wear the rings. A simple solution would be to move the rings from the hand that symbolizes marriage to the other hand. Some people have also chosen to place the rings on a necklace and wear them around his/her neck.

Transform your wedding rings. If you chose to transform your wedding rings this is where you can be especially creative. Many people have taken the stones out of the rings and placed them in new settings or made them into a new pair of earrings for example. Another option is to consider adding memorial diamonds to your current settings.

For example one woman said: “My husband died this year, and I had a nice gold chain, took the diamond that was in his Masonic ring, and suspended it in the center of his wedding ring, all held together in the suspension with small diamonds encrusted in a slide. It is lovely, and I wear it all the time. Sometimes I find myself even bringing it to my mouth, and unconsciously kissing it. But, my left hand ring finger is empty.”

Position the rings in a place of respect. If you choose not to wear the rings, you could make a place of honor for them. An idea might be to make a shadow box that you hang on the wall that will hold the rings. The shadow box then can be placed in the house somewhere that will bring comfort to you as you view your creation. This is also a nice way to pass a keepsake onto children.

Some people choose to wear their wedding ring for the rest of their lives on their left hand, especially those that are older, and have made up their mind that they will not ever want to marry again. Feel comfortable to do that, if this is your choice.  There are no rules about what you “must” do.

We have been told by those that want to take off their wedding rings as a symbol of “moving on” that they have chosen to give them to their children now, rather than wait for their own passing. If you have no children, perhaps a niece or nephew might be the perfect recipient.

If you want, you can put your wedding rings in your jewelry box, and keep them there until you decide what you do want to do with them. There is no need to rush to a decision.

Give yourself permission to take your rings off, if that is what you feel like doing. Sometimes, it is a simple as listening to your intuition to know what is the thing to do that “feels” like the perfect solution for moving to a new emotional plateau.

If you have come to a place in your stages of grief where you are truly ready to move forward, keep in mind to choose something that is right for you and that also symbolizes you are moving on from your loss. Symbols, such as wedding rings, are powerful. Potential mates will respect that you are honoring the past while being ready to accept new people and new love into your life.

But above all else, be creative, and do what pleases you!

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |May 24th, 2010|Categories: Death, Funeral, Grief, Grief and Loss, Loss of a Spouse, Memorial Diamond, memorial diamonds, Monuments, stages of grief|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Wearing Wedding Rings After Death and Memorial Diamonds

Funerals for Children

Grief and Loss

Funerals For Children

Losing a child is never easy even when the child is not your own. Children are the hope for the future and should have so much of their life ahead of them. When a child is lost so are the dreams and the hopes of the future. It seems unnatural to be taking care of any end of life arrangements of a child. Because of this, many funeral homes don’t display caskets, burial vaults, or items related to child loss.  There is for many a sense of loss of innocence when a child dies. Expectations are cut short, and the deep, unexpected grief and loss of the parents of the child is an additional factor that makes taking care of the child and the family difficult.

Here are some things you might do to take care of yourself while helping a family who has lost a child:

Be Prepared: Mentally prepare yourself that eventually it will be your task to help a family who has lost a child. We tend to push things out of our minds that are extremely unpleasant. Spend some time thinking about what you need to help yourself during this time. It is easier to plan ahead when you are not emotionally involved at the moment.

Be Aware Of Triggers: If you have children be aware that a loss of a child around the age of your children might affect you more. For some it is easy to think that the deceased child could be my child lying on the table. Remind yourself that your child(ren) are healthy and alive. Stop yourself from thinking in terms of the “What If’s”, and realize that your being so affected can help others feel your compassion.

Delve Into Your Spirituality: Even though you work with death every day are you comfortable with what happens to the spirit after a person dies? Do you have a strong faith system? Does it encompass the loss of a child? The more you are secure in your belief system the less rattled you might be at the time of a death of a child. Your stability will be an asset the family of the child can draw upon during the funeral service.

Have Resources Available: The loss of a child tends to bring out the community in force. Make sure to have avenues for people to express their grief. They will rely on you less if they have other places of support. Some items to keep on hand would be:

  • Online Journal with a guestbook. People can write in the guestbook at your funeral home, from home or school. It is accessible 24/7.
  • Grief Therapists and others who can help people through the grieving process can be written out and can be placed on tables or given out at the service.
  • Virtual Candles can be put on your website for families to light at the wake, service or at a later date.

Finally, remember to stick to the basics. Remember to eat complete meals three times a day. Put away the sugar and the chips. Drink lots of water and skip the caffeine and alcohol. Rest as much as you possibly can. Fatigue exacerbates difficult situations so when you can take a quick nap. If a child’s death is still affecting you after a month or two consider talking to a your doctor or seek grief counseling. Even those in the funeral profession need and can consult outside professionals to help them through emotionally trying times.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Children and Death

Grief and Loss

Children at the Deathbed

The topic of children and death is a hard one for many people in our society.  Keeping kids sheltered is thought to protect the children so that they will not suffer as much.  However, when we keep children away from a dying family member or don’t allow kids to attend a funeral we cut them off from the cycle of life. In addition, children realize they have been “left out” and because of this, some children can grow up feeling excluded in other important activities as they go through life.

One of the important ways children learn about death is through socialization. If we do not allow our children to socialize and learn the process of death, then they will not know about coping with loss when they are adults. Death is a natural part of life. In this instance, it most likely will not be as traumatic for these children to be with their mom as you might think–as long as you discuss what death is and where people go after they die. Since discussing death in our western society is a difficult subject for people, this topic is usually handled with evasiveness. Encourage the family of the children to discuss the death of their mother openly and honestly. Be sure to answer any questions the children ask honestly using correct terminology.

The kids are going to comprehend death differently depending on their ages and stages of grief. The seven year old in this case perceives death differently then his/her siblings. Children ages four to seven DO know something is wrong. They think in black and white so it is very important for the adults not to say something like “Mommy is going to heaven in an airplane.” The child will literally think this is happening. The older children can think in conceptual terms and do understand people die and go elsewhere.

I would suggest to the family that they utilize their local hospice, if there is one. The nurses through hospice are wonderful people who can explain in detail to the children the process of death and what might happen at each stage. They will know age appropriate words and concepts. They often can predict the time of death fairly closely.  Sometimes dying people see loved ones that have passed away in the room with them and they might talk to them. Dying people can hear music that no one else hears and/or they may see sparkling lights. Prepare the children for end of life behaviors that have happened to others dying for similar reasons.

Having the kids present can help their healing down the road. I would make sure to have them part of a grief support group or they seek some form of professional grief support. One final thing to note is people don’t always choose to die with others present. Some people wish to die alone and will wait to pass until is someplace else, or it is the middle of the night.

Remember that the children need to honor their own feelings, as well as that of their mother. If they want to be at her bedside, then make that possible for them. If they do not want to be there, allow them to feel good about their decision to stay away. Either way, there should be no guilt involved with the choices the children make.

Death is hard regardless if you are in the room with the person or not. Assist your family to know what supports are available to them.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Coping with the Loss of a Spouse

Grief and Loss

The Empty Space

When you lose a wife or husband it is the first of many end of life losses. As you are finding out there is more than one person/thing missing in your life. Everything about your life is now different. The empty space will seem smaller as you go through the various stages of grief and as you change and grow from within.  To help you with this change so that the empty space seem less empty you can:

Make a Plan:

You are changing even if you do not realize you are changing. The loss you experienced has created a vacuum in your daily life. In general, nature abhors a vacuum. Personally we do not like a hole or space so we rearrange things to make us feel complete. This change occurs whether you want it to or not. What you can control however, is how you want that change to look, feel and act. Make a list of goals of where you want to be in six months, a year or even eighteen months from now. What do you have to do to obtain these goals? For example do you need to downsize your home and move to a smaller abode? The more in control you feel the quicker you can manage your grief and loss.

Start Something New:

When change occurs in your life it is a good time to try something new. What have you wanted to do for some time but haven’t given it a go– like taking pottery classes? Perhaps there is a trip you have always wanted to take? Make a life list of things you still want to do before you die and start checking them off!

Rearrange Your Space:

It is important to change your personal surroundings to reflect the internal changes occurring in your life. Take stock of your material possessions and remove the ones from your living space that no longer suit you or that you no longer need/use. Go through your wife or husband’s belongings and keep a few treasured items and then remove the rest form your space. This cleansing process might be difficult but it will help you grieve and eventually help to fill that empty space.

Decide Who You Are:

No matter what our age we can always ask the question, “Who do I want to be now?”  You are moving from a time in your life where decisions were decided as a “we” and not as an “I”. How do “I” want to live? Where do “I” want to live? Who do “I” want as friends? How do “I” want people to see me now? What decisions do “I” need to learn to do that we used to make as a “we”?

I had a perfect example in my grandmother. My grandfather died in 1985 at the age of 82. Throughout their marriage he refused to eat pizza or have it delivered. My grandmother decided in her next phase of life that she was going to have pizza. It helped defined what she wanted be. Small things can be as important as the big things.

Remember that you will be changing over the coming years. You do not have to be a passive observer to your own life. You do not need to feel like a victim because your husband (or wife) died but instead you can take the control seat. With each change you make the empty space will start to fade and it will, in some ways, seem smaller.

 

By |May 13th, 2010|Categories: Blog, Death, end of life, Funeral, Grief, Grief and Loss, loss, loss of a spouse, stages of grief|Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Coping with the Loss of a Spouse

Why Cremation Memorials Are Popular

Cremation Memorials

Cremation Memorials Help the Bereaved

Psychologists and counselors have been researching the effects of grief and loss with more frequency over the past century.  They are finding tangible positive effects of bereavement on the family members.  The positive healing effect can be explained when it is recognized that art expresses that which cannot be expressed through just words.  Grief often lies beyond words, beyond simple explanations of our conscience minds.  It is in the unconscious that expression of deep wounds and tragedy of loss is found.  Grief cannot be reduced to the rationale.  Art can speak to us and facilitate the connection with what is going on inside of our minds as we grieve to help us through the process.

Julie A. Burn, Director of Cremation Services for the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, says today’s families have more choices than ever before. “It’s important for families to take the time to grieve their loss and to find a way to remember the life that was lived, regardless of whether they are choosing cremation or traditional funeral and burial,” Burn said. “Today’s cremation services offer many ways to honor the deceased, and so I would encourage families to be sure to ask the funeral home and the cemetery what their options are for creating tributes and memorials that are personalized and have meaning to them.”

It is expected that the Funeral Directors become an active part of the presentation of the Cremation Memorial in order to facilitate these benefits.

The Funeral Directors are expected to:

  • Become educated on the processes involved with creating the memorials
  • Gain a personal confidence in the company creating the memorials
  • Getting the sample of the cremated remains to the artist
  • Receive back the remainder of the cremated remains when the work is complete

Adding the additional service as an option to the families adds an additional source of income to add to the bottom line of the business.  The artisans producing the memorials typically recognize that the contributions of the Funeral Director are essential in making the transaction.  When the Funeral Directors have invested time into learning about the product and are able to represent the benefits to the family and confidence in the company handling the cremated remains that is when the families really consider the option.  Additional value is added to the families when the handling of the cremated remains is taken care of too.  The samples of remains are sent to the artist and the remaining cremated remains are received back when the work is complete.

Types of Cremation Memorials

Several new memorial technology options have been used as a medium to incorporate cremated remains, for example:

Memorial Diamonds

Man made diamonds are molecularly identical to naturally occurring diamonds.  By recreating the forces of nature to the primary element of all diamonds, carbon, a diamond can be made.  General Electric first pioneered this technology in the mid 1950’s.

By using the carbon from the cremated remains or a lock of hair, memorial diamonds can be created to forever encase the cremated ashes in a unique and beautiful memorial.

To create the memorial diamond, the carbon is heated to extremely high temperatures.  This step removes the existing ash and converts the carbon to graphite with the unique characteristics and elements that will create the diamond.  The graphite is then placed in a press capable of replicating the forces in the earth, heat and pressure.  The pressure needed is nearly 1,000,000 psi and the temperatures are up to 3000 degrees centigrade.  In approximately 70 days, depending on the size of the memorial diamond you wish to create, the resulting rough diamond crystal grows.  When the rough diamond is ready, skilled diamond cutters facet the memorial diamond according to the families’ selection.  The diamonds can be inspected and graded by trained gemologists, the same process used by the world’s finest jewelers.

These memorial diamonds are typically available in sizes from .25 ct. to 1.5 ct.  The colors that these memorial diamonds can be created range from blue to red to yellow to green.

Keepsake Jewelry

Keepsake jewelry is a small urn that can be worn as jewelry or hung in a display.  It has a small area inside to hold a memorial to the loved one, like cremated remains for example.  Keepsakes were first introduced by Madelyn Pendants in 1992.  Joni Cullen and Lisa Saxer-Buros created keepsakes when they lost their friend and mother Madelyn Saxer.   From Madelyn Saxer’s zest for living and her ability to embrace death, the concept of the Keepsake Pendant was born: A symbol of continuing love, a reassuring remembrance to keep close to one’s heart.  In creating the pendant line, they had a simple purpose: to enable others to cope more easily, to hold a source of comfort in their hands and to find peace in their hearts.  The keepsakes were initially intended for cremains but Joni and Lisa soon realized that was limiting the benefits of the keepsakes which also hold locks of hair, funeral flowers and other personal items.

The death care industry has used the term Keepsakes for so long now that it has come to be synonymous with all Cremation Memorials.  When Madelyn Pendants started marketing the keepsakes there were no other cremation memorial options available to the families.  They had to coin the term because there was not a name for the niche yet.  The acceptance to the keepsakes has been steadily growing since they were introduced.  If initiation is flattery then Joni and Lisa have been flattered.  Today there are a number of companies producing and marketing keepsake jewelry.

Keepsake Urns

Once keepsake jewelry started to catch on there was a recognition that the families could benefit from Cremation Memorials.  The urn companies began introducing lines of small urns.  The small urns, keepsake urns were designed to hold a portion of the cremated remains.  The funeral directors and urn resellers were able to fill the need of the families to provide a way to create multiple memorials to the loved ones.  Family members do not all live around the same cemetery or crematorium, in fact they often live in different cities and states.  The families still have the natural need to for a memorial.  Cremation urns fill this need perfectly.  Families often request several keepsake urns for all the family members.

Cremation urns come in as many forms and shapes and made of as many materials as urns have come to be found in.  And the variety is increasing.

Cremation Painting

Cremated remains are combined with the paint used to create a memorial painting.  The artists can paint a portrait of the loved one, a landscape or still life that invokes memories of the loved one.  Because the art is individually commissioned the size, form and subject can be personalized to the families needs.  This is one of the newest Cremation Memorial mediums that have come available to families.  It is testament to the even larger variety of memorialization options that families will be presented in the future.

Memorial Pottery

Pottery work that incorporates cremated remains into the clay or into the glaze that become the memorial.  As with the Cremation Paintings, the pottery form of memorialization takes on a very personal nature.  The individually commissioned pieces are designed to reflect the essence of the loved one as well as contain the cremated remains.