We plan our Celebration of Life service and leave memories for our family to treasure, but when we are no longer here, our loved ones are left in their grief. In addition to our ideas for dealing with grief in our Celebration of Life Planning Guide (see below), I recently read this article written by Lucille Rosetti (Thebereaved.org) which I believe gives thoughful tips to help your loved ones when going through the grieving process.
Advice on Managing Grief and Honoring a Loved One
"The death of a loved one can stir strong emotions. Sorrow, guilt, anger, and regret may all surface from time to time as you work through the grieving process. Learning to cope with loss takes time and it could be awhile before you feel like yourself again. In the meantime, it’s important to take care of yourself. Many people tend to neglect their own needs out of remorse or depression over the terrible loss they’ve suffered. Lack of sleep, loss of energy and a general listlessness may result in those who neglect their physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs. Profound grief can be a paralytic; you need the strength and resilience that comes from a healthy acceptance of loss to deal with it effectively.
Don’t feel as though you have to serve some kind of emotional penance, or turn your back on things you and a loved one used to do together. Continuing with life as you always have is a way of honoring the person you’ve lost and continuing to grow as the person you are. But growth means accepting that emotional loss is part of life, and that you will go on. For that reason, you must focus your energy on taking care of yourself.
Don’t close yourself off
Bereaved people sometimes close themselves off from intimacy and physical interaction that can be affirming and healing. Maintaining contact with others will help you heal. The people in your life are sources of love and wisdom, especially when it comes to knowing what is good for you. They want to be nurturing and supportive, and help you through the grieving process. Helping others with their grief can also be restorative, a way of sharing with people you care about. Physical contact is also part of the healing journey, so don’t shy away from hugging or holding the hand of someone who’s also grieving.
The healing power of music
Music has the ability to reach parts of the brain that elicit powerful memories. It can help open you to emotional responses you may have been suppressing out of fear or an unhealthy denial of grief. It does this by transcending intellect and articulation; music bypasses the rational obstacles we create for ourselves and speaks directly to the emotions. Author Wendy Lesser describes it as relaxing “the usual need to understand.” Instead, music allows your emotional instincts to take over and come to a more profound understanding of your situation and feelings.
Do it for yourself
Doing something just for yourself can seem selfish when you’re grieving for a lost loved one. Profound loss can make us feel like we should follow an austere path; that somehow to engage in simple, pleasurable activity would be dishonoring to the memory of one who has died. Think of it as a healthy way to occupy your mind and to assuage negative feelings. Try going for a walk, cooking your favorite meal, seeing a movie, or getting a good workout, anything that makes you feel good and gives you reason to keep going. You may find it becomes easier to work back into your daily routine, or return to work.
Dealing with grief can be difficult if you have a lot of stress and chaos in your life. Take the time to meditate and for introspection. It’s a therapeutic approach that creates stillness within yourself, giving you time to accept what’s happened to your loved one and understand what it means for you. It could be as simple as beginning each day with a prayer or meditative thought, something for you to reflect on quietly.
Taking a step back
Gaining a better perspective on loss and its effect on you can help us make good choices for mental health. The way we eat, drink, love, and cope with stress, depression, anxiety, and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing. And when you start to make unhealthy choices, it’s important to learn how to be strong enough to make changes."