Funeral services are more than a way to honor a deceased loved one. They mark one step along the journey of grief. After the burial services, mourners can count on their surviving family members and close friends to provide grief support and a shoulder to lean on, but this support may lessen somewhat as time passes. In dealing with grief in your own unique way, you may find it helpful to look for less conventional ways of coping.
You’re probably familiar with the traditional five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But these widely referenced stages may not be as accurate as mourners have been led to believe. These five stages were developed by a psychiatrist as she observed the emotional reactions of dying patients—not their bereaved families. Psychologists are gradually beginning to embrace another model of grief, which categorizes mourners into three groups. They are Chronic grief, acute grief, and resilience. Within six months, resilient mourners function much as they did before the loss. Most mourners are resilient mourners. Of course, it’s perfectly acceptable to experience keen grief longer than this—resilient grief doesn’t encompass every mourner. But if you do find yourself in this latter category, give yourself permission to be okay.
If your loved one’s death was expected, you probably spent a great deal of time imagining life without him or her. You might have even planned the details, such as how long you would take off from work. But you may be surprised to learn that, during acute grieving, distraction is your friend. Sitting around and staring off into space for hours on end might not be your cup of tea. Try going through the motions of physical work, such as cleaning the house or doing yardwork. Then, consider returning to your job sooner than you thought you would. Physically and mentally demanding work can be therapeutic.
Meditation, support groups, and mental health counseling are all valid ways of coping with grief, but they might not necessarily be right for you. Instead, consider taking up the interests that your loved one had. This might mean learning how to play the sitar, joining a softball team, or brewing your own beer. Do what works for you, not what is expected of you.
At Skylawn Memorial Park, we want you to know that you’re never alone in your grief. Our funeral home in San Mateo connects bereaved families to grief support services that offer comfort and solace during this difficult time.