Author Topic: Funerals and Mourning  (Read 17146 times)

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Danismom

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2011, 10:29:54 PM »
If you are decently close to the bereaved, don't say "call me if you need anything".  The truth is, most people in intense grief have no idea what they might need.  Instead, offer kindly to take care of specific things for them (Would it help if I took care of the snow clearing this week?  I know you have a lot to deal with. )

girlysprite

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2011, 07:34:15 AM »
Some specific ideas, based on my own personal experiences (the death of my sister) and stories I heard (from my mother who is a pastor):

The after funeral time (coffee, cake, you know) is often overwhelming for the main grievers. Especially when younger people died, a lot of people show up, all of them want to offer condolences and talk. So here a few pointers for that specific time:

1: After the funeral/service there is often a chance to offer condolences to the bereaved. if you want to say something that takes longer then about 2 sentences, wait for another time. This is for multiple reasons: First of all, more people are bound to want to express their condolences. Two: The family is often still in a haze and a lot of people is just overwhelming. Chances are they won't process your story.
2: If you want to do something nice for them, offer to get them something to eat or drink. With people lining up to offer condolences, the bereaved sometimes just don't get a chance to look after themselves. I knew when I was in that position, I was intercepted every time I wanted to walk towards the coffee table. I'm forver grateful to my friend who offered to fetch something for me.
3: A lot of people don't really know what to say, and start making promises that they'll call them, offer a lunch date, etcetera. If you make such promises, act upon them. You have no idea how many people say that they will call, and are never heard from again.


General etiquette around dead people:
1: Don't ask how someone died. if the family wants to share, they will do it without being asked to.
2: When someone has committed suicide, don't try lines like 'It was his/her own choice', 'He/she is in a better place now', etc. You get the gist. Not only doesn't it lift any of the grief, but a lot of people realize that suicide isn't always a person's own conscious choice. Sometimes people die during a attack of psychosis, or something similar. Sometimes people are not themselves when they commit suicide. Hinting at that it might be better like this, or the person wanted it, is making it very much worse, because it might not be true.
3: If you want to do something that will be appreciated, write and call after the funeral has passed, and in the weeks, months and years after. It is nice that when life seems to take its course again, to receive a little reminder that people have not forgoten about the dead person, and haven't forgotten the (often invisible) grief of those close to that person.
4: When offering help, make sure you do it in a time that the person is not occupied with other things - make sure they have some time to process it. Try to offer tangible help. Not like 'when you need me, call me'. While this is nice, it is rarely acted upon. A few things that might work to offer: Offer to do groceries, cook, bring food, or help with other household tasks. Offer to come over to just listen, or look at pictures, read stories.
5: Don't avoid the topic of the deceased. People often want to share stories and talk about their grief. Don't beandip.
6: When a bereaved cries, offer a shoulder, some tissues....but don't try to soothe it or make the crying stop. Don't try to make the bereaved 'feel better'. Just let them cry for as long as they need to.



Hollanda

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2011, 07:45:51 AM »
If you are decently close to the bereaved, don't say "call me if you need anything".  The truth is, most people in intense grief have no idea what they might need.  Instead, offer kindly to take care of specific things for them (Would it help if I took care of the snow clearing this week?  I know you have a lot to deal with. )

ITA. This is especially important at funerals, when emotions are running high and the bereaced may well still be such a state of shock that they won't know what they need, and even when they do, they may feel ultra awkward asking anyone for a favour. 

Also, it is awkward when you know someone is grieving, and it may be difficult to know what precisely to say to them. But please, for the love of Deity, don't assume that the grieving person wants their own space all the time, just because you are uncomfortable (either at the funeral or afterwards!). A polite "Hi, I am so sorry to hear about your loss" will usually be enough, along with a sympathy card if you know the bereaved person well enough.

On the other hand, forcing your own life stories to the bereaved person is not cool either. I have actually heard a "friend" of mine say, at a funeral, "Oh, you poor thing...last year my Uncle died, and I don't know how we got over it. He died suddenly, of heart failure, you see, he was fine one minute and then...boom! You never know when your time is up, do you?"  :o I stared at my rude but well meaning "friend", whilst my bereaved friend shook her head, said "I suppose you don't, now if you'll just excuse me one moment..." and walked away. I don't think I could have done that!!! I know she was well-intended,and her mouth ran away with her in the heat of the moment...but you know when you get that voice in your head saying "SHUT UP! DON'T SPEAK ANY MORE!", you really ought to listen to it!  ::)
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violinp

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2012, 11:56:58 PM »
Dear certain people at a funeral tonight:

I understand everyone grieves in different ways. However, gossiping about other people's romantic lives and discussing a ballgame play - by - play in a not - very quiet voice, and laughing about said topics, even when the other people started quieting down for the service, is not ever appropriate in the room where the bereaved are greeting other attendees of the funeral and the service is being held. Other people want to be left alone with their thoughts and preparing themselves mentally for the funeral, and don't want to have interruptions like that. If you must have that conversation, take it to another room. I hope the family of the deceased were too involved in accepting sympathy and saying goodbye to their loved one to notice your rudeness.

Note to Self: You are not a horrible, evil person for not greeting the bereaved in the sanctuary because you don't want to see the dead body. That is a perfectly normal reaction, and no one judges you. Stop beating yourself up.
"It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends" - Harry Potter


Anyanka

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2012, 11:48:04 PM »
If you are planning the funeral for your step-parent, please make sure his/her biological children are in a position to attend, especially when they live abroad.
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2012, 03:11:21 PM »
An add on to the "everyone grieves in their own way": If someone loses their spouse after years of illness, then meets someone else within a year of their late spouse's death, don't judge.  You don't know what they and their late spouse might have talked about before he/she passed.   And finding someone else so soon does not mean anything about the relationship.

One of my aunts passed away last year, and from what I learned from my other aunts, they'd been together since they were 18, and she was 54 when she passed.   And he loved her a great deal, devoted all the free time he had outside of work to taking care of her.  About 4 months later, he went on a cruise and met someone else and by November, they were dating.   Interestingly, she bears quite a resemblance to my late aunt.  I haven't met her in person, but I friended her on FB and she seems nice and the two look very happy together and I'm happy for him. :)
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

kitty_ev

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2012, 09:05:50 PM »
From being on the receiving end of a comment of this nature, don't assume someone's faith is helping them when they're grieving. It may be true for a lot of people, but it's not the case for many as well. The death of someone can shake someone's faith to the core and assumptions like this might not help them.

Food gifts can be exceedingly helpful during bereavements- particularly those that can be frozen and reheated later. When my brother-in-law died suddenly, the neighbours and parishioners of my in-laws (both vicars) very kindly brought around several cottage pies. They were a real help in a very stressful, upsetting situation.

portabella

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2012, 05:58:51 PM »
Donít use the funeral as an opportunity to see/talk to an old flame (whether s/he is single or not).

Donít use the funeral as the opportunity to chastise another family member Ė about anything.

I know of cases where both of the above have happened.  Incredible.  Just boggles the mind.   ::)
The first time someone shows you who they really are, pay attention.

turnip

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2012, 06:12:51 PM »
Funerals should celebrate the person. laughter can be appropriate even in the funeral service.


I'd be cautious declaring that funerals 'should' be anything.   For some they are celebrations of a loved one.   For some they are times of deep sadness over a loss that will never stop hurting.  The feelings of a mourner should be respected, and no one should ever be criticized for being too joyous(*) or too sad.

( *Assuming, of course, the joy isn't because 'finally that old (b) is dead!" )

Free Range Hippy Chick

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2012, 03:34:51 AM »
Don't assume that the way you would organise any part of the proceedings is the right way or the only way, or that doing any part of it differently is tacky or weird. Where I come from, the gathering after the funeral is catered by the family and the family's friends; going to an hotel or having outside caterers is viewed as vulgar and unfeeling, implying that no member of the family cares enough to do it. (OK, slight exaggeration, but only slight.) Where my DH comes from, the gathering is done outside the home and with external catering, because anything else is viewed as trying to do it on the cheap, which is - you've got it - vulgar and unfeeling.

The family has organised it the way they want to, which is nobody's business but theirs. 

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #25 on: July 17, 2012, 08:31:04 AM »
For my father's side of the family, to try and make all the food for everyone would be seen as nuts and trying to do too much.  There were at least 100 people at my Grandmother's wake, same with Grandpa's.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

Free Range Hippy Chick

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #26 on: July 17, 2012, 09:07:44 AM »
For my father's side of the family, to try and make all the food for everyone would be seen as nuts and trying to do too much.  There were at least 100 people at my Grandmother's wake, same with Grandpa's.

Yup, we had that. Neighbours brought food because we knew that we were looking at that sort of number. We didn't have to ask: standard practice was for people to call and say 'I was thinking of bringing X, unless you would rather have Y?'  I rest my case: family does things the way that works for family. The morning of the funeral there were three women I had never seen before in the kitchen, setting up a filled roll production line. I don't think I ever did discover who they were. Maybe we had Funeral Ninjas?

Actually, another point: in my culture, you call at the house between the death and the funeral, offer your condolences, stay an hour, drink a cup of tea, and so on. That's probably where the Funeral Ninjas put together the food plans. In my DH's culture, the time between the death and the funeral is for immediate family only, i.e. not even cousins, and you don't intrude. He sees the way we do it as so stressful, having to cope with all those people. I see the way they do it as cold and disengaged. But really, all these structures are just that: they're structures to help people cope. We shouldn't judge just because somebody copes differently.

snowdragon

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #27 on: July 17, 2012, 12:41:20 PM »
Do not come to someone's loved one's funeral and hand your kid off to the family. Just because I am single with no kids does not mean I am available at my father's funeral to babysit your kid - You might have been his friend, but I am his daughter, I helped care for him and I lived with him...you not so much, you kids did not even know him.  No it's not our job to find him something to eat or  take her outside to play or spend the wake or funeral breakfast running after them. You need to take the time to deal with them yourself. this time more than ever.

exitzero

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #28 on: July 17, 2012, 12:48:20 PM »
Please do not lean on the deceased's casket, on his folded flag, while talking to other people.  >:( :o >:(  Goes double if you're a relative by marriage who's been out of the family for 30+ years. (Why yes, this did happen at my grandfather's funeral. I was too stunned to say anything.)

Or lean on the casket to answer your cell phone. Yeah, that happened.

The Ricker

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Re: Funerals and Mourning
« Reply #29 on: July 17, 2012, 01:51:59 PM »
If you've lost a spouse, and have progressed through the five stages of grief in record time, don't ask potential new mates if they are free for dinner the evening of the funeral.