How To Deal With Losing a Loved One

It’s inevitable! Ironically, death is a part of life and at some point…

We all face losing a loved one.

Losing a loved one

What’s crazy is that I am really a happy person. Children are always in my home. And if God would allow me more, I will certainly love and adopt oodles more. But just a few years ago, our family went through a lot of deaths and at the time it was surreal but we actually survived it! We can even laugh together and talk about the beauty of our experiences now. We still cry and that’s o.k. too.

We all need to learn how to cope with losing a loved one. 

We are now self-proclaimed experts! In a little over one year, we lost 6 immediate loved ones. The hardest was our shared-son. Unreal, huh? I have never had to go to a mental home, although there were moments {smiling uncomfortably}. At the time, I had NO idea how to do the planning. So here are some tips to help you gain better preparedness than us! Actually, by the 3rd death occurrence, we were coordinating the process and became directors of the funeral process.

I thought it might be beneficial to share how we dealt with the losses both in the practical steps AND in the very emotional/spiritual process. Each person handled it differently, so I’ll give you some of these variations too.

1. Realization that your loved one is about to die or has died. 

This one takes time. If you are able, no matter what you think at the time, GO! It is actually very biblical and honorable to escort the dead. Some very spiritual things happen when you sit, sing, talk, hang out, while your loved one passes…just don’t cry in their transition. Make it peaceful. Sometimes we don’t get to make it to the transition, but we trust that for these situations, the right people or spirit was there to help ease the way.

a. The first week of death is the strongest spiritually. You will actually feel their presence. It seems weird saying it out loud, but I think you should know this. It was very strange for us. Our family had many dreams and the children would want to share during the night. There were funny stories and sad. Similar emotions would be expressed and others would say, “me too!” These things drew our family together because we knew that it was real and special.

b. This “feeling” of closeness seems to last around 12 months, then it becomes less and less frequent. It must be like being in two places at the same time, but on a physical and spiritual level. We are only “out” 3 years at this point, but I hope this closeness never goes away…that is certainly up to the Creator.

Being at Two Places at the same moment is possible!
Being at Two Places at the same moment is possible!

2. Get your family’s funeral place to find you the most appropriate box and make arrangements quick.

Personally, we do not believe in the crazy costs and exploits that (can) occur with the business of funeral homes. Get someone savvy to help you. Keep it simple. We have to manage within our faith; for us, we hung out with our loved one, had them cleaned and placed in a pine box and put into the ground. (Every funeral home should have this around $800. They want you to get the $2,000-$6,000 box, and you certainly can. Just know there is another option not usually shared).

We each put earth and rocks on the site and say our prayers. We burn a candle for seven days and somehow these things give us a sense of helping. Having some involvement in this transition is good for both the loved one and us, the survivors!

3. Gather people together and have a time to pray and appreciate the life of this dear one.

A lot of grace, remembrance of good deeds and forgetfulness of bad parts are certainly allowed at this time! {smile} The most amazing memories come out. You learn things you didn’t even know about the person you love. This is such a special time. We have our service the day after death/burial to allow for long distance travelers. Although for our one unusual case, we worked with the biological parents and had to wait a week! It was horrible for our family, but we endured for the sake of peace.

a. Order a bunch of balloons or ask someone to bring them to fill your home entrance. We did this twice; for our shared son and for Nana – it just felt like they would love it…and it helped our children.

b. Tell people to give to their congregation or donate to cost of burial; we found that so many wanted to help and DO something. This is a part of healing.

c. Make some inexpensive poster boards with the children and put photos of their favorite memories to fill the time before the gathering. It is VERY healing and honoring to the loved one. We put up these boards on easels at the gathering for people to see and enjoy…we still pull them out and smile. Obviously, you have to do what is comfortable for you.

Memory Poster Board
Memory Poster Board

4. You must DO something to get through this—Everyone is different

a. Me? Couldn’t handle another, “I’m so sorry”! Weird but true. I also don’t like crying in front of anyone except my husband and children.  So…for me, I needed to unplug and head for the mountains. The closest I could physically get to the heavens and sit in peace. I got in a car and called the trip, Priceline and a Prayer! For $60-$65/night my children and I traveled 1,000 miles to the mountains and Canada for two weeks straight. We never knew where we would land except one day in advance. It was so miraculous. We stopped at Wal-Mart and got organic, whole foods for the most part. Eating well is critical in supporting your body during this time. This trip was divine and amazing because God gave us experiences that are truly unexplainable.

Mountain moment with God
Mountain moment with God

b. Husband: Needed work therapy. Did a lot of physical labor and stayed home to work. He had zero interest in traveling but encouraged us everyday and urged us on to see new things. The miracles that happened every day still amaze us. But the hubby…He.needed.to.sweat!

c. One child needed holding and snuggled constantly.  This was easy; guess I needed that too!

d. Another child wanted to draw pictures all the time and really needed to look and sit quietly in front of water. I took him to Niagara Falls. It was awesome!

Water peace
Water peace!

e. Another child needed to talk and ask a MILLION questions! This was great in bits, because we were each able to explain our beliefs and trusts regarding life.

So find a way to do what you need to do and God will provide a way.

5. Journal. Try to write everything down.  I became obsessed, which is why you now see Real Food Recovery, an empowering cookbook, this article, and a [book] for survivors!

Sometimes our biggest challenges make us bigger.

For as long or as little as this passion lasts, I will share to encourage others to make beautiful, healthy, lives. Somehow, these difficult events become a spark plug into my blessed life to share more. We give and help, but have been obstinate on privacy. Still require this somewhat, but certainly realize that not enough good information is available out here on the World Wide Web that is actually life-giving and not overly-piously religious. Real is our goal. What we say, we live!

We had our very young children to consider, so this forced creativity. Having said all this…my greatest learning is that what comforts me may actually offend you and vice versa! Everybody grieves differently, so this will help you understand and accommodate each other as well.

**Warning: There are those that will disappear and those that get angry. As hard as this is at this time, we endure these reactions too. It is helpful that as we tell our children that these family members deal with losing a loved one this way…we are also reminded to just love them through it.

We hope you find blessings and that in the times you must face death with a loved one that we have helped to ease the transition and make the memory special.

Here is another resource that may help you in your loss. The Healthy Honeys

May you continue living; grow in health and happiness for you and your loved ones.

Be Blessed,

Mandy

Losing a loved one

 

Mandy
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Mandy

Mandy is the force behind the advocacy portal Real Food Recovery. Since losing a 4 yr old to cancer while fostering to adopt, Mandy founded a nonprofit organization recovering children at-risk using fun and real food. As a Mom to birth, foster, and adopted children, author, Nutritional Therapist, & NRT, Mandy shares simple, affordable ways to recover health and to have fun, while supporting your doctor... Connect with Mandy through Twitter and Facebook.
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7 thoughts on “How To Deal With Losing a Loved One

  1. You have quite a story. I’m glad you write everything down. It benefits many others. These are wonderful suggestions. I lost my mom and was thankful to be by her side. I agree, make the most of it. She wasn’t responsive, yet when I whispered in her ear she moved her right foot. I’ll always cherish that moment.

    1. Thanks, Andrea. It is surprisingly comforting to know that they actually hear and recognize your presence.

  2. Wow, I can’t even imagine how emotional this all was for you. I’m so glad that you prevailed with a smile, and that you are sharing your experience and knowledge with others. Thank you so much for putting all of this into words and sharing with the world.

    1. Thanks, Karen. With so many getting diseases today, many friends ask how we deal with it…and with 4 children under 8. This worked for us and we hope that others can find a little help when needed.

  3. Loved this post. Having just dealt with James’ dad’s passing away a few weeks ago, great advice! Love you!

    1. Thank you, that is so hard…I love you!

  4. […] a spider was traumatic” are days of old! Surgeries, herculean embarrassments, near death, and death experiences are all fair game and somehow we become stronger and more vulnerable and more real as we survive […]

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