It is never easy to lose a loved one, but there are ways that you can help yourself in the process. It starts by knowing what to expect after someone passes away and learning how to cope with your feelings during this difficult time.
In this article, we go through what you should expect after the passing of a loved one.
1. Grieving Process and Changing Expectations
Coping with the loss of a loved one is difficult. Grief can be seen in different ways and there are many stages a person has to go through – shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Shock is the first stage of grief. It is characterized by disbelief and numbness. A person may experience it when they have just lost someone close to them or they have had an accident that resulted in injury or death.
Denial is when a person refuses to admit the reality of what happened because they can't come to terms with their loss yet. Anger is common as well because of this refusal to accept reality while bargaining sets in when a person starts imagining what their life would be like if only they had not lost the person.
Depression is a very real problem for many people who suffer from the grieving process continuing for too long. The grief caused by extreme loss can lead to the person in question becoming severely depressed.
Eventually mourners move onto acceptance, where they begin to understand and accept the circumstances around them. This is easier said than done, as mourners can often relapse between depression and acceptance. However, mourners with time – should move towards acceptance.
2. How to Celebrate the Life of the Deceased
The most important thing to remember is the grieving process. It is important to respect the memory of the deceased and give them a well-deserved and timely farewell.
It’s often said that funerals are for the living, not for those who have passed on. It’s a time to reflect on one's life and share their memories.
The funeral can be an opportunity for closure and healing, but also a chance to celebrate life in its fullest with those who are now living.
Beyond that, one could also choose to create an online obituary, produce videos or compile a scrapbook. Having such mementos serve to preserve the deceased’s legacy, and allow family members to browse through their loved one’s life.
Hosting yearly visits also serves to commemorate the deceased. Maintaining grave stones and buying flowers would be a simple yet appreciative act.
3. Emotional Support for the Bereaved
The bereaved need emotional support, not just physical.
In the time following the death of a loved one, people might feel like they are in a fog or like their minds are on autopilot.
It is difficult for them to make decisions and even think about what needs to be done next.
We can help by providing emotional support. For example, we can listen to them without judgment and provide an outlet for expressing their feelings.
We can also help with practical tasks that require concentration and organization such as sorting through possessions or making arrangements for someone else's caretaking needs following the death of their spouse.
Most importantly, mourners should also consider counseling if they find themselves in great pain. There is no shame in doing so, as counsellors are tasked with ensuring the mental wellbeing of everyone – not just the mentally challenged.
Alternatively, we can consider approaching support groups for help, if you prefer a more social setting. These organizations often have trained staff for counseling as well.
4. Administrative Process for the Deceased
The process of a deceased individual’s estate can often be a burdensome and expensive process. It often entails sorting through the deceased person’s property, paying taxes, and distributing assets.
With the help of an attorney, this process is made easier for those left behind. The attorney is also responsible for ensuring that all legal and tax obligations are fulfilled before distributing any assets to beneficiaries.
This is done by drafting wills or trusts to ensure that the distribution of assets does not cause any conflict within family members. They also draft estate plans to account for all tax obligations and bank accounts that may need to be closed after death.
5. Looking Forward to Life After Mourning
We can learn a lot from our past and still live life to the fullest. We mustn't allow our past to define us. We should turn it into a lesson that can help us be a better person in the future.
Our life is like a story we write, and we should live every page of it to the fullest. Opportunities are still present everywhere, as the world moves on while we are mourning. Our deceased loved ones would also want us to lead a happy life beyond their death.
Nicholas is an undertaker based in Singapore, who seeks to encourage mindful thinking and meditation in times of grief.