Here are some suggestions from what we are learning as we grieve the loss of our son. Please add comments to this page with your suggestions on how to face grief.

Facing Grief

At First

  • Get adequate food, fluids, and rest. You may need medication to help you sleep.

  • Let others help you handle calls and visitors so you can focus on what you need. Don't spend more time with people than you find helpful. Accept offers for food. If people ask how they can help, let them do something that would relieve you of a distraction or burden.

  • Get as much time off from work as you can; don't go back to work until you are ready.

  • When people offer their help, let them! Make a list of names of those you can call for help or those who asked you to call if you need to talk.

 

In General

  • Express your grief, don't try to hold it in or bottle it up.

  • It may help you to express your grief if you find a place to be alone. You can drive to a park or scenic spot where you can think, cry, and pray. Trent found this to be extremely helpful. 

  • Spend time with close friends with whom you can openly share your heart. Don't spend time with people that are not helpful or drain you emotionally

  • Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings.

  • We found it very helpful to see a counselor, read books, and join a support group. 

  • After the funeral, Trent found it constructive to go to the cemetery each day at first and then each week. This allowed a time where he could grieve. 

  • In the weeks and months following the funeral, keep your schedule light. You will not have the emotional energy to get back into the hectic lifestyle that seems to be the norm. You are facing a long and difficult time of healing and need to take it easy. Just do what you have to do.

 

Funeral/Visitation

  • When your loved one's body is ready for viewing, you may find it helpful to spend time with the person alone prior to the funeral service. Normally the funeral home will accommodate your request and give you privacy.

  • You may wish later, if not now, to have pictures of the body in the casket and/or a recording of the funeral service.

  • If there are difficult details about the death, such as in the case of suicide, make up a memorial folder to be given out at the visitation that shares the details that you want to share. People will read it while they are waiting to talk to you and you will not need to explain the circumstances. We found this valuable. We did not have to face the inevitable "What happened?" People focused on comforting us. Click here to see our memorial bulletin.

  • Make sure you have a tall stool to sit on at the visitation; you will get tired of standing and greeting people. 

  • Plan the funeral yourself with the components that you want. Don't just take a stock service.

  • If it would help, delay the funeral so you have time to prepare. Three days after the death may not be enough time. In our case, the death occurred overseas and we had to wait two weeks for the funeral. That may be too much time, but the extra time did allow us time to plan the service and get past the initial overwhelming shock.

  • We decided not have a meal right after the funeral. We felt we would not have the energy to go through the funeral and burial and then attend a meal with a lot of people. Later that day we had a private meal for immediate family and close friends. One disadvantage to that plan was that we did not know exactly who was at the funeral and have time to greet them, but that was not our main concern.

  • You might want to stay at the cemetery until the casket is lowered into the vault and the lid is put in place. 

  • Be prepared for a change after the funeral. It may be as though you were on Novocain up to that point and after the funeral, the numbness starts to wear off. You start to feel pain in a different way, along with a sense of denial. 

 

Comforting those who are grieving

These are some ways others comforted us that we found especially supportive:

 

  • Listen and offer help, but don't talk a lot.

  • Instead of asking, "How are you doing?" say something like, "I'm so sorry for your loss. Is there anything I can do?"

  • Don't avoid the subject after the funeral. Let them know you are thinking of them and what they are going through. Generally, the grieving person thinks about their loved one often and would like to talk about the person.

  • If you take food to the grieving family, take nonperishables or things that could easily be frozen and enjoyed another time.

  • Avoid saying, "I understand how you feel." All grief is different. You don't understand.

  • When you send a card, try to write something in it, even if it's as simple as a scripture verse that you found encouraging with an explanation of how it helped you.

  • Realize there is no clear-cut timetable for grieving or clear-cut stages of grief.

  • Cards and flowers are nice at the time of the death but are even more cherished later when everyone else seems to have forgotten.

  • Remember special dates with a card or a phone call--the loved one's birthday, wedding anniversary (if applicable),  and anniversary of the death.

 

Here are some suggestions from GriefShare on how to interact with grieving people

 

  • Remain calm and nonjudgmental.

  • Use direct and specific language (naming times, places, and names) to help them reorient from the "blur" of grief events.

  • Mention the deceased by name.

  • Do not say that you know how they feel. Each loss is unique.

  • Do not tell them how good they look to avoid talking about how bad they feel.

  • Encourage them to talk about life as it existed before their loss.

  • Show your humanity.

  • Do not be afraid to gently touch them. 

  • Let them cry and express their emotions.

  • Be willing to listen, especially in the evening.

  • If they want to talk about their loss, do not change the subject to a lighter topic.

  • Take your conversation cues from them. Silence is okay.

  • Make several short visits.

  • Visit during the weeks after the funeral when others get back to normal life, but the deeply grieving person cannot.

  • Let them make plans.

  • Minister to the whole family, but do not let them "attach" to you in an unhealthy manner.

For those who are grieving

Lone swan on a lake