Sunday, December 23, 2012

After The Death of a Child Comes Grief

I found I had so many questions and so few answers after my toddler died.

In 1989 I was 28 years old, happily married and living in a new home with two beautiful, healthy, young children.Within moments the pain of grief pierced my heart. My toddler was dead, and I experienced the absolute lowest point in my life and had no idea how I was going to survive. I wanted to die too.

It was at this time I was encouraged to keep a journal of my feelings and emotions which I did. Doing this exposed and off loaded my deepest emotions of grief. Little did I know then, that it;was going to be a significant part of my healing process.

It took me two years to forgive myself and others and begin to heal but I did. Slowly my life began to make sense again.

When the wounds of grief after the death of my toddler were raw, I found great peace from expressing my feelings; either through the written word or in conversation. Often conversation was difficult because it triggered tears or there was the absence of a listening ear when I needed it most. It was for this reason I am grateful that I was introduced to and began to use the healing art of journaling.

I once read and have since discovered that it is in the expression of emotions that healing happens. I found that over time, writing things down began to clear my confused mind and helped me to move forward.

I know of parents who have not survived, either in their physical or mental health, in their marriage, or in being able to function as loving parents to their remaining children. I know of parents who have tragically taken their own lives in desperation of never learning how to enjoy life again. The pain of living without healing can become too great for some to cope with.

Everyone grieves in their own personal way and in their own time. No one has the right to change that process for you. Life is constantly throwing choices at you and it is up to you and not anyone else to make the right choice to help you move forward.

Experiencing the death of a child is an indescribable loss that parents carry with them forever. You never get over such a tragedy. You learn to live with its memory and overtime you gain the strength you need to carry the weight of pain.

If you have experienced the death of a loved one you will find yourself going through these stages at some point. They may occur at different levels and at different times but overtime they will generally happen.

I truly wish no one had to experience the despair and emptiness that is felt after the death of a child but if you can embrace your journey and hang on tight for the ride, you will make it to the other side of healing, to lead a whole, happy and productive life again. You will have experienced an indescribable depth of life that only few experience.

My Journal as an eBook.

Jan Murray has been committed to studying and working as a Registered Nurse, Midwife and Child Health Nurse for over 25 years. Jan is a mother of five, (eldest deceased as a toddler), Child Health Consultant who co-founded and directs Settle Petal. Jan provides information and support for parents to develop their knowledge base and confidence. Receive your FREE Routines eBook and feel supported raising babies and toddlers at Unlock a secret to helping babies settle, sleep and grow.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Plan Your Own Funeral Before You Need It

By taking the time to plan your own funeral ahead of time, the agony of making these arrangements is lifted from your loved ones. This can be one of the best things that you can do for those that you love.

The worst part is that most people don't even realize that this planning service is available. We see the Funeral Home as a place that we only go to in our time of need.

Life insurance is broadly advertised, but not funeral planning. Maybe this is because we don't like to think about our own mortality. It is unfortunate that this major benefit to our loved ones is not more publicized.

Knowing which Funeral Home you will use is the key. Simply call the Funeral Home and schedule an appointment. They will set up a time for you when their schedule is quiet.

The staff of Funeral Homes is always knowledgeable and helpful. They will open a file in your name to be used when the time comes. What a great gift to give those that you love!

Making these arrangements includes filling in some details specific to your life. These include such things as the names of your parents, where you were born, and any siblings along with some other information.

One nice thing is that along with the planning, you may even get the option of paying for some or all of the expenses at today's costs. There are a few options that cannot be paid for ahead of time, since the payment for services of others (sometime in the distant future) cannot be accurately predicted. You can, however, put money towards these expenses.

The good part about this payment option is that there is usually no set payment plan. You pay the Funeral Home money towards the services as you can. Once you have enough in your account to pay for any specific item, it is completed and you start paying towards the next item.

When you plan your own funeral, there are several benefits:

    Your ancestral information is correct. This may be important to a child, a grandchild, or even a niece or nephew who is trying to find their "roots".
    There is no push to have you pay for anything that you have chosen. This does not become a monthly bill that adds to the mountain of bills in your daily life.
    Most importantly - your loved ones will be spared the agony of trying to fill out the paperwork and remember the details of your heritage correctly.
    Your loved ones will have the peace of mind of knowing that the services provided are just the way that you wanted them.

Once you have your funeral plans arranged, be sure that your loved ones are aware of whom to call when the time does come.

Although it is not high in our day-to-day thoughts, taking the time to plan your own funeral really is one of the best ways to provide for our loved ones. The last thing that they will need during their time of grief is the agony of making arrangements for the burial.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Humor and Healing - When It's Appropriate to Laugh After Loss

How soon should you laugh after a loss? This is the question that someone asked recently. They asked the question as if there is a concrete answer. There is not such an answer. I will try to offer some encouragement in this article, but it important to remember that the time limit will be different for every situation.

In January of 2012 I lost someone very close to me to death. The loss was sudden and unexpected. It hurt worse than anything I have ever experienced. I remember struggling with this very thought during the days following the loss. Having gone through this experience so recently I feel that I can offer some advice on the topic at hand. I hope you will find some answers to your questions as you read.

When answering this question, there are some questions of my own that I would like to ask in return.

    Do you feel like laughing now?
    Do you think laughter is somehow an indication of healing?
    Do you feel guilty for wanting to laugh?
    Do you feel that laughter is the antithesis of grief?

To answer the question posed in the title of this article I will try to answer each of the my own questions above.

    Do you feel like laughing now? If you feel like laughing the same day as you experience loss, then by all means laugh. This is part of the healing process. I am not recommending that you force yourself to laugh. However, when you have experienced a loss, you will go through an entire gamut of emotions. Laughter may spring from a natural emotion, and if so, those emotions should not be stifled. The Mayo Clinic in a study on laughter concluded that laughter actually helps to reduce stress. Follow a loss, especially the loss of someone very close to you, there will be a substantial amount of stress. Laughter, if naturally occurring, can help in relieving some of that stress.

    Do you think laughter is an indication of healing? I have to ask this in response to the original question because it is important to ascertain why the question was asked in the first place. I can remember having this very discussion with a close friend after my loss. Some family members were very upset that there had been an evening before the funeral when other members of the family had sat around the table laughing and telling stories. Perhaps they felt that laughter indicated that the others were no longer grieving the recently loss. This of course is not true. Laughter is an indication that healing has happened, but that the grieving process is taking place.

    Do you feel guilty for laughing or wanting to laugh? Don't. Laughter is part of the process. It is healthy. If you want to, go for it!

    Do you feel like laughter is the antithesis of grief? Again, that is simply not true. In the days following the loss in my family, we laughed, cried, talked, sat quietly, cried some more, and laughed some more. One minute we laughed, the next minute we were crying. These two emotions were not at odds with each other. They were companions on the road to healing.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Commemorate the Dead With Bronze Plaques

When laying a loved one to rest, the final stage of closure involves the placement of grave markers. These give you one final chance to communicate to the world how important the deceased was to you. Grave markers are the last gift you can give to your lost loved one. As such, there should be more to them than just headstones on their grave.

Designing grave markers during a difficult time can be a distressing task, however. Grief can overwhelm your decision-making or design process, despite your desire to create a lasting and loving marker. When this happens, you can follow these guidelines to have an earnest and thoughtful grave marker.

Gather Details

Gather information about the deceased, including the correct spelling of their name and dates of birth and death. Write it down, then double-check to make sure this important information is accurate.

Choose a Photo

Look through photos of the deceased, if you are planning to put a picture on the memorial plaque. Choose a photo that portrays them in the prime of their life or in happier times, like their childhood. You can also choose a recent photo as a remembrance of their appearance at the time of their death.

Choose an Epitaph

Epitaphs can serve as reflections of a person's existence. They highlight a person's personality traits and accomplishments in life. In some cases, they might also tell the story of the circumstance that brought them to their death.

When choosing an appropriate epitaph, look through a Bible, Torah, Koran or other religious materials for comforting and inspirational quotes, if the deceased had a religious preference. Consider using their favorite passage or scripture. Choose a quote that is not too long or wordy, however.

You can also choose an epitaph detailing the accomplishments of the deceased's life. For instance, you can commemorate the philanthropic works of a loved one known for their charitable works.

You can also look through a copy of the eulogy, if available. Write down some of the tributes given at the memorial service. Choose moving and appropriate quotes that best capture the spirit of the deceased. Whatever subject you choose, make sure the epitaph marks the deceased's existence here on Earth.

Add Embellishments

Decorate the grave marker by adding a simple flourish under the name and dates. Put a single flower or simple religious symbol on the side or at the top, if applicable.

Sketch out the Plaque

Draw an approximate draft of the plaque. Put the name at the top and the dates of birth and death below. Decide where to place the photo and epitaph, if applicable. Sketch out a block for copy or text.

Choose a Design

Grave marker manufacturers have different resources available to help you design. These include templates or ready-made designs, such as single monuments, footstones, and bronze plaques.