After the Service
After your loved one’s funeral or cremation services have been held, you should feel like you have at least some closure and like you’ve taken an important step toward moving on. It’s sometimes hard to feel that way, however, when you weren’t completely satisfied with how the services were handled, when you have questions or concerns, or when there are still matters to clear up with the funeral home. This handy guide should help you to get through those days and weeks following the services.
Privacy and Confidentiality
First of all, understand that funeral homes are obligated to speak with only family members about the service, its costs, and other matters related to the funeral and/or burial. Knowing that this level of confidentiality exists should help you to feel safe and secure. If a funeral home does breech your trust, know that you do have options for reporting that breech. By the same token, however, you will need to be understanding if the funeral home insists on speaking with only you or certain other family members to get after-service needs taken care of.
After Care Programs
Many funeral homes understand that a lot must be taken care of in the days following the funeral service and prepare for this need by offering after care programs. Find out if your funeral home offers this option, and, if it does, take full advantage of it. Typically, these programs can help you with getting payment from the life insurance company, filling out any remaining paperwork, finding and supplying necessary documentation, and most importantly of all, with resources to help you with your grief and the sense of loss you are likely experiencing.
Your first instinct after the funeral may be to isolate yourself so that you can grieve. In reality, though, that is probably the worst thing that you can do. During this difficult time, you should surround yourself with people who can offer help and support. Spend time with friends and family members, especially those who knew the deceased and who understand what you are going through. Don’t be afraid to talk about your loved one with these people. Talk about the happy memories, the bad memories, everything. Talking out your feelings and leaning on others will move you on the path toward healing. Keeping everything inside or just trying to go on with your life like normal will only do more harm than good in the long run.
See a Counselor
While friends and family members are almost always well meaning in terms of the support and advice they attempt to give, sometimes their offerings are just not enough. If you find that you are still struggling to get past your grief or that you are having a hard time coping with your feelings, you may find it helpful to speak with a professional grief counselor. These individuals truly understand what you are feeling and can help you to cope with your feelings in a healthy way. Your funeral director can recommend grief counselors in your area.
Take Care of Yourself
Often times, people can get so busy taking care of (or not taking care of, as the case may be), their emotional states that they neglect to take care of themselves physically. Poor physical care can cause you to feel tired and rundown and can make all of the feelings you are dealing with seem that much worse. Though it may be difficult, focus on health and wellbeing during this time. Some things you can do to better care for yourself include:
- Striving to eat healthy, nourishing foods
- Getting outside in the sunlight, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day
- Taking a walk or engaging in other exercise
- Getting plenty of rest
- Taking time off work/other responsibilities to properly grieve
When Grief Gets Serious
As mentioned, grief and sadness are totally normal responses to the loss of a loved one. Sometimes, however, grief can become more intense and prolonged than it should be. If left unchecked, it can even grow into a serious depression that can be debilitating. If you feel like your grief is overwhelming you or making it hard to continue living your life, then you should definitely seek help from a professional. Also, if you develop any of these signs relevant to your grief, you should seek professional help:
- Feeling like you don’t want to live/like life isn’t worth it
- An inability to enjoy activities once enjoyed
- Idealizing death
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feeling a sense of blame or guilt for your loved one’s death
- Disconnecting yourself from others/ social withdrawal
- Feeling numb
- Losing trust in others
- Harming yourself or others
- Constant, prolonged grief and an inability to move past your grief
It’s Okay to Be Happy
As you start to recover- and you certainly will if you take these steps- you may feel like you are “coming back to life.” Sometimes, when people start to rejoin their lives and feel happier, they also feel guilty. They feel as though it’s wrong to be happy or as if they don’t deserve to be happy after their loved one has passed on. In truth, though, it’s okay to begin feeling happy again. It’s okay to laugh and to live your life. It’s exactly what your loved one would have wanted you to do. Though moving on can be difficult, be proud of yourself when you do so, instead of beating yourself up.
Honoring Your Loved One
As a final tip, remember that just because your loved one is gone and the services are over doesn’t mean you still can’t remember him or her fondly. When you are ready, place pictures of your loved one in your home. Think about happy times you shared together. Keeping your loved one’s memory alive will forever keep him or her alive in your heart, long after the services have ended.