Photo via Pixabay via Silviarita
When someone you care about loses a loved one, it can be devastating for both of you. Coping with such a huge loss and having to take care of preparations for a funeral, memorial, viewing, and burial at the same time can take a toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. That’s why your loved one will need your support and assistance to get through this difficult time.
However, it’s hard to know what to do to help. Many people feel uncomfortable making arrangements, or you may be coping with your own feelings of grief. The key is to be there for one another so you can navigate the process together. Let your loved one know that you’re there for anything they need, and find ways to help them cope with their emotions so they can avoid becoming overwhelmed. Here are a few tips on how to help a loved one plan for a funeral.
Act as a Funeral Coordinator
There is a distinction between planning a funeral service and coordinating one. You can sit down with your loved one and talk about their ideas for the service -- including where it will be held, whether there will be a memorial or viewing beforehand, and whether there will be a burial or cremation -- so you can act as their representative when it’s time to talk to the funeral director. This way, your loved one can make sure everything goes according to the deceased’s wishes without having the emotional burden of taking on all the arrangements alone.
Make Funeral Plans for Out-of-Town Guests
Talk to your loved one about the possibility of out-of-town guests coming in for the service and how they want to handle accommodating them. Close family members may be perfectly comfortable staying at your loved one’s home, while distant relatives or friends may need help finding a nearby hotel within their budget. Offer to help everyone get situated and assist them in finding restaurants and pharmacies in the area. You can keep it simple with addresses of preferred stores, or send them Google map pins.
Plan for the Future Funeral
Losing a spouse or partner is hard enough on a senior, but thinking about what they’ll do after the funeral can sometimes be even more difficult. They may not have the means to stay in their home, or it may hold too many painful memories for them. Talk about what the next move is once the funeral is over and help them begin the process of planning for their future, whether that means moving, downsizing, or finding a way to age-in-place. Click here for more info on how to get started. It's never too early.
Take on Their Daily Chores
After dealing with such a loss, it can be hard to think about managing daily chores and household tasks, so take them on for your loved one. Cleaning the kitchen, running the vacuum, mowing the lawn, or doing some light grocery shopping will all be appreciated and allow your loved one to focus on what’s really important.
Planning and executing a funeral service is a lot of work and can take an emotional toll on people. Your loved one may feel numb afterward, or they may be extremely upset as they work through the grief process. Making a point to visit often after the loss will help them stay social and give them an outlet when they need to talk.
Helping a loved one through such a difficult and painful process is never easy, so make sure you take steps to focus on your own needs, as well. Talk to a therapist or support group if the loss is affecting you, and make it a point to practice relaxing activities that will help you de-stress.
This post was contributed by Lucille Rosetti. Lucille created TheBereaved.org as a means of sharing tools to help people through the grief process. Having lost some of the people closest to her, she understands what it's like, and how it can be an emotional roller coaster that doesn't always seem to make sense. She is also affiliated with Hayworth Funeral Home.