When a family member passes away, it is a difficult, devastating event. Not only do you have to deal with your grief, but you have to endure the unpleasant, but necessary preparations for putting that person to rest.
During that time, you will find that this process will show you either the best or worst of people. They tend to fall into two categories: those who want to genuinely help and be a comfort to you and those who want to personally benefit from your loss.
One of my friends is facing this situation right now, as I know many others are. Having been through it myself, I would like to suggest some things you can do to help make the stressful circumstances you are under more bearable.
Keep Positive People Around You
Going through the funeral process is very emotional. That is why you need to have people around you who will be caring, supportive and helpful. Of course, you can’t totally avoid the toxic folks who try to involve themselves in what goes on, but you can get individuals who have your back to be buffers for you.
When I was making funeral plans for my mother, there was no end of people who were there for all the wrong reasons, saying all the wrong things and trying to get into all of my business. My close friends and family members were the ones interested in my needs- praying for me, seeing that I ate something, cleaning the house, staying overnight, running errands, etc.
These are the ones you need to have about to help you make it through this challenging occasion.
You cannot do it alone.
Take the Best Security Measures
Probably the best advice my mother gave me before she passed away was to make sure that the house was made secure during the time I would be preparing to put her to rest.
She suggested that temporary locks be put on the bedroom doors to which only I had the keys to, to prevent wandering “guests” from going inside and walking off with whatever they could find. I thought, at first, that this was a bit much…until an individual who came with a visitor I knew was discovered inside a bedroom. He was obviously in the act of trying to steal something. I immediately followed my mom’s recommendations and put locks on the bedroom doors to prevent further mischief.
While you are in the business of planning your loved one’s funeral, there are also other folks making their own plans to break in your home. They will carefully watch your comings and goings and even find information about the time wakes, funeral services, etc. will be held. Their purpose is to learn when nobody will be at home, so they can do their dirty work. Another means of security is to have a family member, neighbor or friend that will agree to “house sit” for you when you have to be away from you or your loved one’s home. Make sure it’s somebody you can trust, however.
This is not paranoia. It’s wisdom.
Make Certain You Read the Fine Print
Before you sign on the dotted line, make certain that you understand all the specifics of the funeral plans a funeral home offers. Less reputable ones bank on the fact that you are emotionally vulnerable now and just want to get the planning done as soon as possible. It is a macabre process to have to pick out your family member’s casket, get their obituary written up, discuss embalming and/or cremation and the like, so you may be tempted to just sign an agreement without really taking a look.
High funeral costs, however, will only complicate your difficulties.
When sitting down with a funeral director, make sure that he goes through each offered plan, what it involves and the total cost, to avoid any surprise billing in the future.
As difficult as having to talk about these matters is, you have to be business-like for the moment to avoid being taken advantage of.
Put the Leeches in Their Place
You will rarely see as much greed from individuals as you will when you are going through the time of burying your loved one.
Unmoved by the fact that you are going through the one of the most painful events in your life, these folks will start asking you for your loved one’s possessions.
Imagine my surprise when my hairdresser- a woman who had never called me before- dialed me up to inquire about my mom’s wardrobe.
“I heard she had some nice outfits,girl,” she said, “and she won’t be wearing them anymore.”
Yes, it was tremendously tacky, but this was just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of people who wanted everything from clothes to china to liquor, to whatever was in my mother’s home. Some of these folks didn’t even know my mom personally, yet felt entitled to anything they could get.
The fact is that you do not have to accommodate leeches like these. You may be accused of being rude, but let them know, in no uncertain terms, that you do not appreciate their greed. Inform them firmly that, if you do choose to give any of your loved one’s items away, you will decide who to give them to. That will get them off your back quickly.
Just because you are grieving does not mean that you have to put up with this sort of behavior.
Cry If You Need To
A lot of well-meaning people will tell you to refrain from getting emotional.
Certainly, you do have to exhibit some degree of strength, just to get through your family member’s funeral.
Remember,though, that you are only a human being and losing a person you love is sad. Give yourself permission to cry or vent Go to another room, if you want to do this in private, or call a trusted friend to get your feelings out. Letting them out can actually be a healthy thing.
Never allow anybody to dictate how you should act during this time. Everyone’s grief is individual and you should handle it in the way that is best for you.