What Happens After A Funeral? How Will I Cope?

When we lose someone we love, it can seem like life will never get back to normal, and you’re right, life won’t be the same normal that you knew before, but a different kind of normal.  Grief is a challenging emotion and it is one that can last a lifetime, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, unless it becomes overwhelming.

Grief itself is a multifaceted response to loss, it is especially present when someone we love dies, when a relationship or friendship ends, or when we lose a bond or closeness that we have developed, regardless of the length of time it existed.  Grief is one of those emotional responses that can be difficult to navigate, especially if we try to go it alone.

In my experience, people usually cope with grief well in the first few weeks following the loss of a loved one, usually because during this time they are surrounded by people, love and support.  Slowly though, after a funeral, people tend to start to get back to their normal everyday lives, and those of us who are left to grieve, start to experience feelings of loneliness and emptiness in a way like never before.

I remember speaking with a lady who lost her son tragically, and she said to me “My world has stopped, I’m angry that everyone else’s world hasn’t, they get to keep going about their lives and I am here grieving for my dead son”.  It was something that I didn’t quite know how to respond to at the time, but I definitely understood what she meant. So rather than respond, I sat with her, I let her express her emotions and feelings without feeling judged and without feeling alone.

Her comments stuck with me and I don’t think they are something that I will ever forget.  I often reflect on what she said and there are times where it has been the exact definition of what others have felt and are feeling.  Grief isn’t one of those things that you can pigeon hole or that fits a perfect definition though.  For everyone, Grief is its own unique, complex, journey.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there are some things that you can do to better cope, and whilst it may seem easier to stay in a place of grief, it is much healthier in the long run to cope well with grief, rather than letting it take over and consume you.

Acknowledge Your Pain

Recognising that what you are going through is painful, is an important part of healthy grieving. Expressing your feelings and emotions is an important aspect to acknowledging pain, even if you aren’t the type to usually talk about how you feel, it is important to share your feelings with your support network. That doesn’t mean you have to talk about how you are feeling every time you are with people, but when you feel like you can share, you should.

It is important to remember that sometimes people might feel awkward or uncomfortable around grief, and that is ok. Grief is confusing, challenging and sometimes people are unsure of what you need from them. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you need from them and what you don’t need.

Take Care of Yourself

Self care is so important, especially when you are grieving.  Grief can quickly eat away at your physical, emotional and spiritual reserves, so taking care of yourself on all levels while you are grieving is important.  Mediate, take a long bath, go for a walk, a swim, workout at the gym, stand at the shore and yell, cry, laugh, remember that you are important, you matter and what you are experiencing is normal. Be there for yourself and take whatever steps are necessary to care for yourself on all levels.

You can express your feelings in creative ways, draw, paint, sculpt, sing, play an instrument, write, whatever feels most organic to you, go for it.  Maintaining your interests and hobbies while your grieving is a great way to self care and helps to keep you connected to your support network.

When Grief Doesn’t Go Away

It is important to note that there is no timeframe on grief. We often hear people talk about the stages of grief, and whilst there are definitely different aspects of grief that we experience, I prefer to think of grief as a jigsaw puzzle that someone has thrown in the air, scattering the pieces near and far , and each piece we find and put back together, is a little piece of our grief journey that more often than not includes all the stages of grief and all the emotions that go with it.  So put down the road map of what you think grief is.  Grief is unique to each person and we all experience it differently.

There are times though that you should seek immediate help, especially if you don’t feel safe or don’t feel that you are coping.  These times include:

  • Feel like life isn’t worth living
  • Wishing you had died with your loved one
  • Blaming yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it
  • Feeling numb or disconnected from others for more than a few weeks
  • Having difficulty trusting others since your loss
  • Unable to perform your normal daily activities

These things are an indication of complicated grief or potentially clinical depression and they won’t simply go away.  They are things that you are best to seek professional support and help with, and there is no shame in that, we all need a little help from time to time.

Grief is a journey and it is different for us all. Always remember that you are not alone, people love you, people want to help you, and people want to be there for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support. What you are experiencing is almost always normal and you will eventually be ok.

If you or someone you know are struggling with feelings of grief or depression, help is available.  Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or see your GP as soon as possible.

If you have questions about coping with grief, where to get support or questions about funerals in general, why not get in touch with us on 1300 043 522 or email [email protected]

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