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Remembering A Life Blog

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Stories and inspiration to help you keep the memories of your loved ones alive

How we remember a loved one is both a reflection and part of the grieving process. At a funeral or life celebration, our spoken remembrances are often shaped by social etiquette which dictates that only funny or touching or positive memories be shared. For those closest to the deceased, these remembrances can sometimes feel at odds with recent memories of the suffering our loved one experienced at the end of life, a suffering we may have vicariously experienced with them.

Contained within the storehouse of the memories of your loved one is a legacy of values. That legacy is expressed in the things you say, do and believe today due to the impact your relationship with your loved has had on your life. Writing about your loved one in the context of a legacy of values offers you a way to speak from the heart and share with others the life lessons, values, blessings, hopes and dreams bequeathed to you by your loved one.

When someone we love has experienced a loss, we may struggle to communicate our support effectively. Often, my undergraduate students as well as attendees at workshops approach me with their stories of grieving loved ones, culminating with statements such as, “I didn’t know what to say to help,” or “I had such a hard time finding the right words.” It is unsurprising that many of us might feel stumped sometimes in verbalizing our support to grieving loved ones, because we ourselves may not have received helpful communication during our own experiences of loss. We might lean on “sympathy scripts,” such as “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “thoughts and prayers,” while recognizing, with a feeling of discomfort, how little support these scripts may provide to grievers.

Storytelling gives us the power to transform the written word into lasting memories that can be enjoyed for generations to come. In part one of our storytelling series, Elizabeth Lewis establishes a framework for successful storytelling.

Five Tips for Talking to Children about Death

I often get asked, “Is it difficult to be a funeral director?” Yes, it can be. But also, being a funeral director and serving families during their most difficult times is an honor and a privilege. For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to care for others. Funerals are an important part of grieving, for both adults and children, and I take a special interest in meeting the needs of children. Funerals offer us a time to say our last good-byes and help start the realization that a loved one is no longer with us physically. Two questions I often get from parents are, “Should my child attend a funeral,” and “How do I talk to my child about death and the events to come?”

I’m a longtime grief counselor and educator, and as you might expect, I talk to lots of people about all kinds of life losses. In recent months I’m hearing that COVID-19 has become a daunting challenge for just about everyone. Not only have stay-at-home and work-at-home protocols isolated people physically and socially, but the uncertainty of illness, financial jeopardy, and an unforeseeable future are making it hard for many to cope. Essentially, people are grieving. Anxiety and depression, especially—which are normal, necessary grief responses—are epidemic. While grief is absolutely natural in the face of these unprecedented circumstances and daily losses, it’s also something that demands compassionate, proactive care.

Digging Up The Roots

When we lose something that was very precious to us, whatever its nature, we grieve. Our grief may be short-lived sorrow or lead to a lengthy period of mourning. The depth of our grief depends on the nature of the relationship that we had with what we have lost, not on who or what that person or thing actually was. We might grieve more for the loss of a dog or cat than a person — it simply depends on the relative contributions made by each to our physical and spiritual well-being.

There are several reasons typically given as to why someone might choose green burial: more environmentally friendly, less expensive and more natural.  What I have seen mentioned less often, and what I have experienced most profoundly, is a sense of intimacy.

LGBTQ+ Grieving: Loss, Love, and Pride

While anyone can experience disenfranchised grief – grief that is not openly acknowledged, socially validated, or publicly observed – specific types of death and membership in already-disenfranchised populations can significantly heighten one’s risk of experiencing it. In this way, LGBTQ+ individuals may be doubly at risk for disenfranchised grief.

Finding similarities between your own grief experience and the experiences of others can help connect you in understanding to both the universality of loss, and uniqueness of your own grief journey. Sharing your story can help both you and others heal.