The Funeral Was a Month Ago, Now What?

Posted on July 07, 2014

A close family member has died, let’s say your spouse.  In the days following the death, you are inundated with the heart felt support of your family, friends and co-workers.  Over the next few weeks, your friends call and check up on you.  Cards, flowers and food pour in to your home.

Now it is a month after the funeral.  The cards are still coming in, but they have slowed to a trickle.  You are back to work.  Your co-workers have slipped back into the usual business routines.  Your friends are still around, but they have gotten back to their daily lives.  They call and ask how you are doing and tell you to ‘just call if you need any help.’  They really do want to help, they just don’t know what kind of help is best for you. 

All of your family is still around, but they, like you, are still in a haze about what has happened.  What do you do first?  Where do you turn for help?  Who can you lean upon?  You may feel alone or even abandoned.  You ask yourself, ‘does anybody really care?’

Yes, people do care.  The need for assistance is probably at its greatest during this time.  However, we often feel the least amount of support during this period of adjustment.  This is when the bills are coming due.  The attorney and the insurance agent are calling.  You still have all of the responsibilities and obligations you had from before the funeral.  You now have the burden of most of your spouse’s responsibilities.

The above scenario is pretty typical.  You find a few family members and committed friends will give their on-going support.  They are probably those who have been in your situation.  Some of your closest friends and family may surprise you by either being there or not being there.  It is extremely difficult to figure out why people react the way they do during these low points.  Some will chose to run into the fire, some will chose to run away from the fire. 

It is quite possible your closest friends will not be around as you may have hoped.  This may leave sour feelings in your heart.  However, does harboring these negative feelings help?  No, they do not.  There is nothing to gain by dwelling on the negative.  You must let it go.  You need to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Instead, reach out to them.  They are scared and confused like you are.  They probably feel uncertain about how to be supportive.  Call them and ask how they are doing.  Let them know while you may have been out of the loop lately, you are still thinking about them.  This will ease their worries. Taking the initiative will help build your confidence during this transitional time.  Your reaching out to them may inspire them to be more helpful to you.  Either way, if they respond to you or not, you will have the positive feeling of being there for them.

When they do call to go to dinner, your answer is ‘yes.’  Getting back out in the world is part of the healing process.  If you say no too many times, it is quite likely they will quit calling. 

What you must do, is continue to live.  Stay involved with your regular activities.  Sign up for new groups, volunteer with your free time and stay busy.  Keep your life on a positive trajectory and this will help all of those around you. 

If you are the friend, relative or co-worker, please, continue to reach out again and again.  Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.  You don’t always have to ask to help, just do it.  Maybe it is mowing the lawn for your friend, taking lunch to their work or dropping by unannounced to just say ‘hi.’  How about signing up for a class to take with them?   

Don’t be afraid to recognize important dates in your friend’s life.  Take them out on their anniversary or send them a card on special dates of remembrance.  These little things will help in the transition to the new normal they are trying to find.  Never underestimate the little things in life and the continuation of life.

Jack Locke



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