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The loss of a loved one is a critical time to accept and seek out help from trusted family, friends, spiritual leaders and professionals. We all need assistance in order to heal and move through difficult times.
Grief is a process and it should not be rushed or ignored. A death can involve feelings of guilt, loss, sadness, powerlessness, anger, gratitude, and ambivalence, our bodies react both physically and emotionally immediately following a significant loss. As a result, we are very vulnerable emotionally and physically at this time. In fact, some of us have a tendency to isolate ourselves and neglect basic requirements like eating and grooming. We may feel very detached from everything as a result of the absence of our loved one.
To honor our loved one and to make responsible decisions, it is important to take care of our basic personal needs like eating and sleeping. You will be called upon to make many decisions in the days ahead and may need extra strength, courage and the help of others to make informed choices and protect your legal and financial interests for the future.
Use trusted legal and financial advisors to take care of short term immediate needs and planning for the future. Be wary of “new friends” who have come into your life. While they may be the start of wonderful relationships, be cautious if they offer to take care of financial matters, encourage the purchase of costly items or services, suggest changes of ownership for your assets, or seem overly interested in your inheritance. Be especially skeptical about any businesses that contact you.
Spending time with family or friends can be the most helpful coping strategy for people experiencing the loss of a loved one. Social contact is helpful during this time because it allows you to participate in conversations about your loss rather than suppress your feelings. Talk about your deceased loved one and memories associated with the history of this person.
Religious leaders are highly trained and regularly assist with rituals and support during the loss of a loved one. Often times the loss of our loved one gives a sense of hopelessness. Turning to prayer and spiritual leaders helps us cope, especially when unexplainable and tragic events are at the core of the loss.
Psychological professionals and counselors are highly recommended during your grieving process. You may feel anxiety set in and you’re losing sleep. It’s common to feel the constant sense of upset butterflies in your stomach as you process the loss and evaluate your future. Some people stop eating and isolate themselves from others. If you believe this is happening to you, it is highly recommended that you seek a psychological professional.
A psychologist can diagnose your emotional condition and, if necessary, provide prescriptions to assist you during your grief. Put aside the perspective that only “weak” people seek a “shrink.” Psychologists are trained professionals who will provide you with the tools you need to address your grief in a health fashion.
If the deceased was involved with a hospice program, you can take advantage of bereavement services up to 13 months after the death of that person. The hospice social worker or the hospice chaplain can visit your home to support you through the grieving process. Professionals are especially useful in facilitating the grief process because you might be having feelings that you do not feel comfortable sharing with your family or friends.
Don’t be shy about asking for help. Tell people what you want them to do. They want to help and they will appreciate you clearly communicating tasks with which you need help. Don’t feel ashamed or be afraid to ask them for help with house cleaning, food preparation or shopping, laundry, picking up family members at the airport, exc. Don’t forget that you would gladly do it for someone else and most people feel the exact same way.
Having a memorial service to honor the deceased is always meaningful and brings closure. If advanced plans were made, ask for help in implementing them. You don’t have to do it alone. If you are planning the event, make the most of this time and have the memorial you want in a way that help you and others that care the most about the deceased.
Use a reputable funeral home. The price of funeral services varies. May people use a funeral home that family members have used in the past. It is advisable to get estimates before buying or agreeing to services. Funeral providers are required by law to give you accurate, up-to-date pricing information. They are also required to provide you with a free copy of price lists when you visit the funeral home. Funeral homes, but not cemeteries, are required to give you prices over the phone.
Don’t be pressured into buying items or services you don’t’ want or need if it is uncomfortable or unaffordable. Take a friend with you if you feel that you may be unable to say “no thanks” yourself.
Cost is an important factor in making a decision. It is not undignified to look at a variety of services and funeral homes. Price shopping or getting estimates and information is a great way for friends and family to help. Ask friends and neighbors which funeral home they have used and roughly how much it cost. Since this is a major purchase you should obtain more than one price. You don’t want the passing of a loved one to be marked by feeling that you paid too much.
Funerals, wakes, and memorial services are symbolic of the continuity of life. Cause the ceremony honors the deceased and affirms that the values, the spirit, and the memories of the deceased will continue through the memories of the survivors. Moreover, such gatherings connect you to other’s feelings of loss and give everyone the chance to share love and support.
The staff at funeral homes or clergy are excellent resources to assist in planning an event to mark the passing of a loved one. If it would be meaningful to you, involve religious or spiritual advisers In your plans. If you were involved with a hospice program, the hospice chaplain or bereavement coordinator might be able to assist you to make arrangements for such rituals. Contact the prepaid funeral home or the hospice program that offered care/services to your loved one. These professionals may also help notify friends and family, secure necessary permits for the final arrangements, and obtain death certificates.
After you have completed the funeral arrangements for your loved on, you will eventually have to address the financial matters associated with the estate. Finalizing the affairs of your loved one may leave you feeling ambivalent and uncertain as to how to proceed. For instance, you might feel anxiety, frustration, guilt and fear about taking the next step. On the other hand, you might be hopeful that you can bring closure so that you will be able to move forward. Having positive or negative feelings regarding this process is common.
Take your time and consider all your options. Eventually you will begin to feel more at ease and better prepared to face the resulting legal issues.
LaBre Law Office
68897 S. Cass St., P.O. Box 550
Edwardsburg, MI 49112
Ph: (269) 663-8554
Fx: (269) 663-7701