Continuing with life after the death of a loved one may be the most difficult thing survivors have to do. When someone dies, funerals and memorials remind us who that person was and enables us to suspend our lives for a time to mourn. But at some point, everyone must continue with their daily lives. This is often extremely difficult and takes immense courage.
After losing a loved one, you may be left feeling alone and abandoned as family and friends resume their daily routines. It may not be understandable that everyone around you could simply go on as if nothing had happened when, for you, everything is different. Though you must also continue daily activities and responsibilities, your perspective on life is often challenged which can cause your outlook and method of living to change. You might:
Continue to struggle, barely getting through your daily life and find little meaning, or
Experience a new zeal for life, finally noticing experiences you may have missed or rediscovering your purpose for living. (Those who have this experience can sometimes choose to dramatically change their life in order to meet newly created goals.)
The Grieving Process
No matter what you experience––be it moving through life with a renewed interest or simply trudging along – it’s important for family and friends to recognize that you are in a state of grief. To that end, grief takes a different form in each of us. Each person has a unique journey that will often leave them at very different places at very different times. Rather than simply getting over grief, survivors must learn to adjust and incorporate the loss into their lives. Ultimately, most will accept the loss and incorporate the reality into their lives rather than letting the grief overwhelm them; survivors may also find that getting through each day is progressively easier as the grief they feel simply becomes a part of their lives. (Please note: There is always the possibility for clinical depression or other destructive or harmful behaviors to emerge during a grieving period. If such behaviors occur, seek professional help to work through these challenges.)
While at times it may seem like others are continuing their lives unaffected by the death of a loved one, it is important to remember that the decedent affected each friend and family member in a unique way and will never be forgotten.
The following approaches explain just a few of the ways survivors can keep the memory of their loved one alive for themselves, their families and their friends.
Survivors can incorporate the loss of a loved one into their lives in a variety of important ways, such as remembering the decedent each year on the date of their death or at family gatherings.
Rituals that all family members participate in can be created to remember those lost and to pay tribute to them.
Creating photo albums, scrapbooks, collections of their favorite music or movies or donating to a charity in the decedent’s name are all ways that survivors can preserve the memory of the loved ones they’ve lost.
Recently, online memorials have also become popular. Types and configurations of memorials differ between websites, but online memorials usually include a photo of the decedent and an anecdote about them that communicates their contribution to the world and the lives of those around them. Some of these services are fee-based and some are free.
Finally, some funeral homes offer online tributes and memorials in conjunction with funeral services. Those who plan on attending the funeral can make a comment about the decedent on the funeral home’s web site to create a place where everyone is able to share their experiences. This can be especially important for friends and family who are unable to attend the funeral; in this way, family and friends of the decedent from all over the world are able to communicate their grief and their love as they would if they were all together. Check with local funeral homes to see if they offer such services or have a partnership with a web site that does.