Grief is a natural response to the loss of a loved one. It’s also unique to each person. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, and no one can tell you how you’re going to feel, but joining with others who have experienced a similar loss can be beneficial.
Even if you have a strong support system of family and friends, a support group might be helpful. It offers:
- Emotional and physical support and understanding in a place with no judgment. A grief support group can give you a sense of belonging in a place where people understand and don’t judge or criticize. It can provide a safe space for you to share what you’re going through.
- Sharing stories to promote hope and healing. Even though no two people experience grief in exactly the same way, the feeling of loss is a shared experience. Meeting others who have lived through loss can help reassure you that you will find your way through.
- Coping skills gained from others’ experiences, with new ideas for how to remember and recover. People who are further along in their grief journey may have valuable suggestions and advice or just a new outlook to share. Listening to others can give you the perspective you need to find your own path to healing.
- The companionship of people who understand first-hand. It’s important to know you’re not alone. Grieving can isolate you from friends and family members, especially when they seem to be getting on with their lives while you’re feeling stuck. Being in a group of people whose struggles are similar to your own can be very comforting.
- Permission to grieve and permission to move on. It’s important to take the time to work through your grief, allow yourself to feel how you feel and acknowledge your loss. Ultimately, being a part of a group gives you permission and opportunity to do this.
At Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park & Crematory, we offer an ongoing grief support group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Celebration of Life Center at Mountain View. There’s no sign-up required and no cost to attend.
. If you’re looking for a group or just someone to talk to, Mountain View has resources to help make it happen. When you’re ready to preplan, we can help with that, too. Call us at (253) 948-9895 for more information, visit our Grief and Healing webpage, or request your free preplanning guide on our Plan Ahead webpage.
The holidays can be especially tough if you’ve lost a loved one. Grief can make it hard to celebrate and painful to remember the happy holidays of the past. However, taking some time to remember and honor your loved one can help you heal.
Finding something that’s meaningful to you is a very personal process. Here are some suggestions you might find helpful.
- Attend a memorial service. These services are often held during the holiday season, whether in places of worship or other locations in the community. Do some research to find one that lets you display a photo, share information about your loved one, and join with others in remembering the people you’ve lost.
- Light a candle and keep it burning on tough days. Some people find it meaningful to visit a place of worship to light a candle, while others find comfort in having a special candle at home to light in memory of the person they’ve lost.
- Create a photo display. It can be one photo of your loved one or a whole collection, sitting on a table or decorating a wall. The point is to have a place where you can feel comforted by happy memories.
- Make or buy a memorial ornament. If you put up a Christmas tree each year, it can be extremely meaningful to have a special ornament to hang in honor of your loved one. Each year, when you place it on the tree, you can take a few moments to reflect and remember.
- Donate or volunteer in your loved one’s honor. Did the person who died have a special charity that was near to his or her heart? Did he or she volunteer during the holidays, wrapping gifts for children or feeding the hungry? If you can carry on the good work that your loved one enjoyed doing, you’ll be honoring his or her memory in a way that benefits others, as well.
- Buy a gift you know he or she would have loved and donate it to charity. Shopping during the holidays can be difficult if you have suffered a recent loss. It may seem that around every corner there’s another gift that would have been perfect. Purchasing one or more of these gifts and giving it to someone in need can make your heart feel a little lighter.
- Create a memorial table in your home where visitors can leave mementos or write down memories of your loved one. Grief shared is grief lessened, and when friends and family members take time to think about your loved one, they can lift your spirits by reminding you of happy memories of their own.
- Make a memory wreath for your door. There are many tutorials online for making a memory wreath. Some incorporate photos; others use mementos and keepsakes. Use whatever feels meaningful and comforting to you.
One important step in honoring a loved one’s memory and beginning to heal is having a meaningful memorial service. At Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park & Crematory we have been supporting families in our community since 1915, helping them plan beautiful ceremonies that truly honor the lives of their loved ones. Call at (253) 948-9895 to learn more about how we can help with grief and healing.
Modern culture is becoming increasingly minimalist, and many people embrace an aesthetic in their homes that favors sleek lines and uncluttered surfaces. Because of this, children and grandchildren often choose not to keep a deceased family member’s possessions, instead selling them off at an estate sale. Things that would have once been handed down and treasured might now be sold to strangers, as older people die and younger people fail to value the things their relatives have accumulated over the years.
Paring down your own belongings may be virtuous, but is it important to hold onto some things?
In many ways, it is. There’s a sense of history you can find in things that have been passed down through generations of your family, and it’s difficult to convey this history just by talking about it. In a way, the things our grandparents and great-grandparents treasured can give us a feeling of family connection and help us remember our roots.
Of course, your grandchildren may not be interested in keeping every one of your knick-knacks, but you can create meaningful heirlooms they’ll treasure and pass along.
- Scrapbook family memories. By keeping a combination of photo album and journal, you can pass along meaningful moments of your family’s history in a tangible way.
- Keep a journal of your life. After you are gone, the stories and emotions you share in your journal will give family members a way to remember and feel close to you.
- Engrave a piece of jewelry with words that mean something to you. A favorite quotation or saying on a piece of jewelry passed down to a loved one can become a cherished possession.
- Write down the possessions that hold meaning for you and tell their stories. Knowing why these things are important to you can make them more valuable to the people who love you.
- Keep a record of items you want to be given to specific people upon your passing. It’s good to put your wishes in writing so that there’s no question about where you wanted your things to go.
Designating a home for your prized possessions before you die is an important part of getting your affairs in order. Other ways you can make it easier for your family to manage after your death is to keep your records organized and to preplan for your funeral. When you preplan, your final wishes are honored and your family is relieved of the burden of answering difficult questions at an already stressful time.
Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park & Crematory has been supporting families in our community since 1915. When you’re ready to preplan, call us at (253) 948-9895 for more information, or request your free preplanning guide on our Plan Ahead webpage.
The opioid crisis is all over the news, and if it hasn’t touched someone you know, you may be among the lucky few. Many families who lose someone to addiction are reluctant to talk about how their loved one died because of the stigma. Recently, one family took the bold step of shining a light on this crisis through the obituary of their beloved family member, a young mom named Madelyn Linsenmier.
Beginning with an expression of the family’s sadness at her loss and pain at the inevitability of it, the obituary described Madelyn as a born performer with a “singing voice so beautiful it would stop people on the street.” It also referred to how, at the age of 16, Madelyn began attending a performing arts high school and soon tried OxyContin.
“It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction,” the obit read. “To some, Maddie was just a junkie; when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her. And what a loss for them. Because Maddie was hilarious, and warm, and fearless, and resilient. She could and would talk to anyone, and when you were in her company you wanted to stay. In a system that seems to have hardened itself against addicts and is failing them every day, she befriended and delighted cops, social workers, public defenders, and doctors, who advocated for and believed in her till the end. She was adored as a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend, and mother, and being loved by Madelyn was a constantly astonishing gift.
“If you yourself are struggling from addiction, know that every breath is a fresh start. Know that hundreds of thousands of families who have lost someone to this disease are praying and rooting for you.
“If you are reading this with judgment, educate yourself about this disease because that is what it is. It is not a choice or a weakness. And chances are very good that someone you know is struggling with it, and that person needs and deserves your empathy and support.”
It was a brave move for Maddie Linsenmier’s family to tell the truth so plainly in an obituary that has shed a lot of light on the issue of opioid use. If you know a family who has lost a loved one to drug abuse, they might not have the same courage to talk about it but they may still need your help. There are several ways you can be there for someone who has lost a family member to this horrible epidemic:
- Listen without judgment. People grieving this kind of a loss may feel stigmatized. They may also be wrestling with feelings not just of sadness but of anger and even guilt. The best thing you can do is to provide an ear and a comforting shoulder.
- Help in practical ways. When people are grieving, they still need to eat, their houses still get dirty, and their children still need care. Look for ways you can jump in to help and offer before they ask.
- Say their loved one’s name. Don’t shy away from sharing memories of the person they’ve lost. Speaking the name aloud lets them know their loved one is not forgotten and is remembered with affection.
- Remember the person for who he or she was rather than dwelling on the reason for the death. This kind of death is not the whole picture of the person, which is why Madelyn Linsenmier’s obituary is so moving. Her family painted her not as a disappointment or a drug addict but as a wonderful, talented, loving and beloved individual.
Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park & Crematory has been supporting families in our community since 1915. If you or someone you know has lost someone, we can help. Call us at (253) 948-9895 for more information or visit our Grief and Healing webpage.