For many, the days and weeks after a loved one’s funeral service are almost as difficult as the ceremony itself. Friends leave and supporters go home–but for the family, grieving has just begun. Below are some tips on coping with a funeral and the time immediately afterward.
Find a New “Normal”
When a loved one dies, their survivors are left with much work to do. The person’s final affairs often need to be finished quickly, all while dealing with grief and loss. People grieve in different ways, which can create tension and the potential for misunderstanding. To avoid this, family members will need a great deal of tolerance.
Work Through the Details
Here, another measure of patience will be needed. When a loved one dies, family is also left with the task of dividing up their belongings. In cases where there is no will, the division of possessions can often turn into a feud. Be tolerant and understanding when working through differences in opinion, and know what to keep or let go. Remember that memories matter, and not material things.
Tell Their Story
Funerals are often places where anecdotes and stories are passed around, and that can happen for months afterward. Do not be afraid to tell stories of a lost loved one; these memories are a source of comfort in the midst of grief.
Deal With the Layers of Loss
When a loved one is lost, people deal with grief on a variety of levels. For one person, it could be the loss of the family home; for another, it could be the loss of the way one relates to others through the deceased. If a person admits that they are experiencing multiple losses, they are free to work on them as they come.
Cope With Feelings of Betrayal and Guilt
At the time of a funeral service and for weeks afterward, going back to work, laughing or even smiling can seem like a betrayal of a lost loved one. In cases such as these, survivors should ask themselves what the deceased would have wanted. The death of a loved one comes with many obligations, all of which are easier to deal with when not under a burden of guilt.
Let Others Help
After the funeral service, it is very important for survivors to allow others to help in the grieving process. When the family home is sold, when there is a meeting with a lawyer, when the death certificate comes in the mail, when the gravestone is placed–all of those occurrences come with tremendous emotion. When feeling overwhelmed, family members should tell others they need help, and not be afraid to ask for support or even time alone.
The hours, days and weeks after a funeral are a time for grief and recovery. As survivor’s duties are handled, family can begin to move forward, and they will notice that their loved one endures in their thoughts, actions and spirit.