Losing a loved one in death is also a part of life.
But losing a loved one changes us. What’s crazy is that I like happy and fun, but it’s hard to make it work here. Plus I’m changing from these experiences.
Just a few years ago, our family went through a losing a child and a lot of other deaths. At the time it was horrible, but we learned some important things along the way. We can even laugh together and talk about the beauty of our experiences now. We still cry too.
Learning how to cope with losing a loved one.
We are now experienced in handling the affairs of the death of a loved one. In a little over one year, we lost 6 immediate loved ones. The hardest was our shared-son. Incredibly I avoided admittance to a mental home, but there were moments. At the time, I had NO idea how to do the planning. Here are some tips to help you do it better.
Here are some of the ways we dealt with the death. There are practical steps and very emotional/spiritual processes. Each person handles 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.
2. The Burial.
Personally, we do not want the expensive box Get someone savvy to help you or you can spend a lot of money in this weak time. We chose to keep it simple. Many people handle this different. Our approach was to sit and visit with our loved one, some ladies clean and dress the body and procure a simple pine box around $1,000. But when you share the responsibility, some want the $2,000-$6,000 box. Our first learning was that there is a less expensive option.
We 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! Others, place flowers over the resting place.
3. Gather and Appreciate the Life.
A lot of grace, remembrance of good deeds. The most amazing memories come out. People will share incredible stories you didn’t even know about the person you love. This time is special. We prefer to have our service the day after death/burial but sometimes we have to allow for long distance travelers. This is just hard but we found that each time we had the strength to make these decisions.
a. We ordered a bunch of balloons or later learned to 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 (deceased) would love it…and it helped our children.
b. Ask people to give to their congregation, charity, or donate to the cost of burial; we found that so many wanted to help and DO something. This is a part of healing for that person, so don’t deny them their process.
c. Make some inexpensive poster boards with the children and put photos of their favorite memories to fill the time. This is VERY healing and we felt honoring towards our loved ones. We put up these boards on easels at the gathering for people to see and enjoy…we still pull them out and look at them. We had to find what was comfortable to us.
4. We needed to DO something
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. 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 a critical way to support our body during this time. Our trip gave us experiences that are truly unexplainable.
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. He couldn’t handle losing his brother. I took him to Niagara Falls. It was awesome!
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. Journaling; trying to write everything down.
Sometimes our biggest challenges make us bigger.
I became obsessed with writing down everything I remembered about our little boy. I don’t want anyone else to experience losing a child, so I wrote a cookbook “Real Food Recovery” for our nonprofit, and now I’m currently working on unprecedented story of fostering, death, fostering, philanthropist.
But the greatest learning is that what comforts me may actually offend you and vice versa! Everybody grieves differently, and I had to learn how to accommodate the other’s way of grieving. Some will disappear and others that get angry and say hateful things. We had to remember that it wasn’t us, it was their way of dealing with it. Therefore we worked hard to love everyone through it, including ourselves.