Grief myths ... there are just so many of them. Everyone around us has unrealistic expectations about grief because of these myths and it makes dealing with our grief so much more difficult.
Disclaimer - many of these myths made this list because they are universally untrue. This does not mean that they are never true. Keep this in mind as you read on.
Grief has an endpoint.
Grief is forever ... It however is not a bad thing. It means that someone we loved is gone and that their memory will be with us forever. Grief may become more manageable, but it will always be there and that's ok.
It's too bad that often others feel like we should have reached the "end" of our grief.
There is a timeline for grief.
The first year is the worst. If you are still grieving the loss of someone or holding on to their things after "X" amount of years, you are "stuck" in your grief.
Time Heals all wounds.
The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone. - Rose Kennedy
You recover from grief the same was as you recover from a cold, it gets better every day until its completely gone.
All untrue. There are ups and downs, good days and bad months. Grief is not a straight line and the end point is not feeling all better.
grief and mourning are the same.
Most people tend to use the word grief and mourning interchangeably. There is an important distinction between them. Grief is the internal thoughts and feelings we have when someone close to us dies. Mourning is how we externally show our grief. In most cases, people grieve but do not mourn.
We are often told to "carry on" and "keep busy", so we grieve alone on the inside without the presence of those who could offer support.
your friends and family or those who have gone through the same experience will be the best to help you through grief.
Just because someone has lost their child or parent does not mean their experiences will be the same as yours. Sometimes, someone with similar experiences will be your best support but other times someone who has experienced something totally different will be able to help you best. Other times, someone who has not gone through grief at all will be the best to listen and not compare their grief to yours.
if you are not crying, you're not grieving or if you are crying, you are weak.
Not everyone is a crier. Just because you are not showing emotion, does not mean you are not grieving. This goes back to the grief and mourning differences. You do not need to show any outward emotion to be grieving.
Crying on the part of those mourning often generates feelings of helplessness in friends, family and caregivers. Out of a wish to protect others, you may hold back your tears. Tears are natures way of releasing internal tension and allows the person mourning to show a need to be comforted. Tears are not a sign of weakness, rather an indication that the person who is grieving is also willing to mourn.
grief support and strategies.
There are several ways to grieve and even more ways to mourn. Finding what works best for you is the indication that everyone goes through the process differently.
If you have lost someone and are looking for different ways to grieve or mourn, attend our Grief Support Open House on Friday, April 20th. We will have local businesses in shop to offer different alternatives to grief management and share their services on grief support.
A poster with more details will be out soon.
Explaining the concept of death to a child is difficult. Most parents try and avoid the subject until the need arises. They don't want to introduce such a sad fact of life unless necessary.
When a loved one dies, children show their grief in different ways. How children cope with the news, depends on their age, how close they were to the deceased and how death has been presented to them.
Here are some tips on the process and ensure your child has a good understanding of the concept:
Discuss death when it's not personal.
Children will experience grief, anxiety and loss when someone close to them dies, regardless of how old they are. Rather than trying to explain grief to them when the situation is all too fresh, try discussing it with them when there is little personal attachment. Talk about loss when a plant dies or when a pet dies. Using these chances to discuss death will allow the child to have a more clear understanding when a loved one dies.
use simple, clear words.
It's a good idea to present the idea in a clear manner so that the child is not confused. Don't mention death in passing. Take some time during the day to sit down with your child and discuss it openly. Let them ask questions freely and answer them honestly and clearly. There are four simple words that can be used to describe death:
To break the news that someone has died, approach your child in a caring way. Use words that are simple and direct. For example, "I have some sad news to tell you. Grandma died today." Pause and give your child time to process.
Remember that grief will also cause anxiety for your child. If their loved one died of an illness they will start to think that anyone who is sick will die. Let them know that not everyone who is sick dies and reassure them of your own health.
listen and comfort but be honest.
Everyone - including children - react differently when hearing someone close to them has died. Some will cry. Some will have loads of questions. Others will not react at all. Stay with your child for a while to offer comfort and to answer any questions they may have. Make sure to check in from time to time in case they have more questions or need to share their new and changing emotions.
Be honest. Parents can say that the child will not be able to speak or see the deceased person anymore - while this may sound harsh, it gives the child something clear to understand.
put emotions into words.
Encourage kids to use words to describe their emotions. Talk about your own feelings - it helps children be more open with their own. Say "I know you are sad, I am sad too. We both loved Grandma and she loved us too."
tell your child what to expect.
If the death of a loved one means your child's regular schedule will change, inform them of those changes. Letting them know there will be changes but some things will stay the same will give them comfort. Informing them of the changes will also allow them to prepare for the changes before they happen and not have any unanswered questions about the future. For example, "Grandma used to pick you up from school but now Auntie will."
Let them know what the coming days will be like. Letting them in on some of the planning process will prepare them for the coming days.
talk about funerals.
Allow children to be involved in rituals like viewings, memorial and burials. Tell your child ahead of time what will happen. For example, "Lots of people that loved Grandma will be there to celebrate her. We will talk about our memories with her." Let children know that lots of people will say words to them like "I'm sorry for your loss" and "My condolences". Inform them that these are polite things people say at funerals and they should respond with a simple "Thank you".
You may need to explain viewings, burial or cremation. Use your families beliefs to best explain these to your child. Use your childs age and interest to gauge how much detail should be presented to them.
Recently during a viewing one of our clients explained to her Granddaughter, who was upset that the body was cold, that "... 's light had gone out. And the light is what keeps the body warm. When you die your light leaves the body and goes to a better place."
Explain what happens after the funeral - everyone will get together and enjoy each others company and comfort each other - and someday everyone will feel better.
give your child a role.
Even a small role will let your child feel involved. Being involved will help them in an unfamiliar and emotional situation. For example, they may want to read a poem, or help pick photos to be displayed. Let them decide how or if they'd like to be involved.
help your child remember the person.
In the days and weeks to come, encourage your child to talk about the person who died. Do not avoid mentioning the person. Sharing happy memories helps along the grieving process and activates happy feelings.
take care of yourself.
Losing someone will cause your child to think more frequently about death. Reassure your child the loss of one loved one does not mean they will necessarily lose another. Your child may go worst case scenario. This is why - even though you are more likely to be grieving also - you need to take care of yourself. You do not want to give your child any reason to fear that they may lose you also. Taking care of yourself also allows you to be there for your child and reassure them of your own good health.
Grief is a process that happens over time. Be sure to have several conversations with your child to see how they are doing. Remind them that healing does not mean forgetting about their loved one. It means remembering them, the good times they shared and letting memories of love fill their hearts as they continue to live their lives.
We, at Celebrate Life Funeral Services, have many resources on how to speak your child about death. Give us a call or send us an email and we can put together a package for you and your child.
understanding cemetery regulations.
First things first, you must pick a cemetery and purchase a plot so that you can inform yourself on the restrictions that may come with picking your headstone.
Each cemetery has its own set of rules and regulations for the size and type of headstone that can be erected. Many cemeteries also restrict the type of headstone that can be used and the material from which the headstone can be constructed.
While some cemeteries offer an installation service, most will require that you organize the installation yourself. Many suppliers offer installation built into the cost of their headstones. Make sure you are not caught off guard when the headstone arrives and figure out installation and costs for this service prior to ordering. Also keep in mind that most cemeteries and suppliers will not install over the winter months.
Know your rights when it comes to cemetery fees. Some cemeteries will charge fees for the installation, on going maintenance and other add-on services. If you are unclear about any of their fees, ask to see their by-laws.
shopping for a headstone.
Familiarize yourself with headstones. Take a walk through cemeteries so that you can see in person different shapes, types and materials. Use this time to develop a rough idea of what you'd like for your headstone.
Set a budget. Keep in mind the cost of the headstone, customization, installation, plot fees and upkeep. Did your loved one set aside funds for their funeral, see if they budgeted money in those funds for a headstone. When planning ahead and pre-arranging your funeral, ensure you have left sufficient funds to cover the cost of a headstone and all fees associated with it.
Select a supplier or speak to a Funeral home who has access to many different suppliers. You can take the time to price out and speak to many different suppliers yourself, or speak to someone at a Funeral Home who is able to give you several quotes with only one meeting. Speak with friends and family about who they purchased headstones from in the past. Ask for customer reviews and make sure whomever you deal with has a good customer rating.
Finalize your choices. Choose the type of headstone you'd like - upright, flat or memorial bench. Choose a material that is durable - Granite seems to be the most popular choice for it's durability and cost. Choose a finish for your headstone - some finished will affect durability, while some cemeteries may have restrictions on finishes that they allow within their cemetery.
Select a headstone design.
Taking into consideration the size of the headstone you've chosen - chose your epitaph. An epitaph can say many things, from a quote to an excerpt from religious text. Consider your loved one when choosing the wording and make sure it reflects them as a person.
Choose font for your writing. Take into consideration what you'd like to stand out. Is it the epitaph, the persons name or their date of birth and death? Choose varying fonts for different writing on your headstone. Block fonts may be more appropriate for names and dates, whereas script fonts may look nicer for quotes and passages.
Select images for your headstone. Some supplier have stock images to choose from, where others may be able to digitally render a pre-existing image to be placed onto the headstone. These images should reflect your loved one's tastes, life accomplishments, religious affiliation or even a photo of themselves.
Once you've paid a deposit, the supplier will provide you with a proof or rendering. Make sure you examine the rendering closely to avoid being disappointed with the headstone when it is complete. This is your time to change anything you'd like and ask for another rendering. Most suppliers will provide you with two or three renderings before they charge an extra fee. Once you approve the final rendering, the headstone will go into production.
reasons to purchase a pre-need headstone.
It has become more and more popular for people to choose their own headstone before the need arises. By doing so head of time, you can select the style, material and wording that best suits you. A personalized design, which you can help create, can help reflect your beliefs, values or whatever is meaningful to you.
You can save money. Purchasing a headstone before the need arises means you are utilizing today's prices. Like everything else, it will cost less now than in years to come. You are able to save money by purchasing a headstone to be used for more than one person. A headstone can be created without dates of death and placed on your plot for future use.
You are saving your family the stress of choosing a headstone for you. You have the opportunity to discuss it with your family and ensure it reflects you as a person. There is less emotion involved when pre-purchasing a headstone.