A Guide to Grief: From Funerals to Feelings

Grieving Girl

I’m having a very difficult time lately. A close family member has passed away, and I’m one of the people in the family who is supposed to be dealing with things like funeral arrangements. I’m finding it hard to focus on that kind of stuff--I know that some people really throw themselves into tasks like that when they’re sad, but I guess I’m just not one of them. What am I supposed to do? How can I be more functional and help my family when I feel so sad?

Grief has a way of making the most simple tasks seem insurmountable. That makes life particularly difficult when it comes time to plan the funeral services of a loved one.

Nothing can make the death of a loved one easy, but there is plenty that you can do to make it feel a little less impossible. You can work to understand the grieving process itself and you can seek help. In some cases, you can also rely on the work of your family and your deceased loved one.

Let’s start with understanding grief. Knowing the basics of the grieving process--such as the stages of grief--can help you find the vocabulary you need in order to understand your language. It can give you a frame of reference that can help you see where you are in the process, and your very ability to recognize that grief is a process--not a permanent state--will help you cope with the difficult moments.

But don’t be afraid to seek help. The inability to accomplish tasks can be a symptom of depression, and depression can be triggered or exacerbated by events like the one you’re dealing with. The truth is that we should probably all be doing more to care for our mental health (studies prove most of us just don’t understand our own mental health needs, and that’s hurting us). It is never a bad idea to see a therapist, counselor, or psychologist, and it makes particular sense when you are dealing with a serious event like the death of a loved one.

Funeral homes and other businesses that rely on helping families in grief tend to be skilled and sensitive in how they deal with you during the process. But it’s never easy to plan a funeral for a loved one, and it’s rarely cheap. That’s why many people choose to make preparations for their own passing, even if that’s not an event that’s expected anytime soon. It’s not unusual to see adults prepare for their own deaths, say experts in cremation services and funeral services. From life insurance and legal wills to prepaying for burial plots, there is a lot that a living person can do to lessen the stress their family will feel after their passing. That may be something to think about down the line when you have taken care of your immediate concerns and perhaps have graduated, married, or had children.

“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” -- Helen Keller

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