WHY FUNERALS AND LIFE CELEBRATIONS MATTER

Regardless of your age, there is a good chance that you have attended at least one or two funerals. For those people reading this article, there is a greater chance that you’ve possibly attended many more funerals than just two. Unfortunately, over the past year, I personally have attended more funerals than normal. With each funeral I attend, my belief that funerals are an important ritual to help the living acknowledge loss and begin the grief process grows even stronger. Funerals do matter.

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PLANNING A LIFE CELEBRATION

At one point in time or another, you will likely be involved with planning a funeral or Life Celebration. While this is a daunting task that no one looks forward to doing, if done in advance your efforts will be very beneficial to your family and friends when it is time to say goodbye to your loved one.  If you are the family member or friend who is responsible for planning a funeral at the time of need, don’t worry, your funeral director will walk you through every decision and help you every step of the way.

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FINDING HOPE DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON

Anyone who has experienced a death of a loved one may find the holidays difficult. The season can become filled with feelings of sadness, loss and emptiness.  “Society encourages you to join in the holiday spirit, but all around you the sounds, sights and smells trigger memories of the one you love who has died,” said Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D, Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition “During the holidays it is important to remember to be tolerant and compassionate with yourself.”

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FINDING HOPE DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON

Anyone who has experienced a death of a loved one may find the holidays difficult. The season can become filled with feelings of sadness, loss and emptiness.


“Society encourages you to join in the holiday spirit, but all around you the sounds, sights and smells trigger memories of the one you love who has died,” said Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D, Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition “During the holidays it is important to remember to be tolerant and compassionate with yourself.”


While there are no set guidelines for coping with the hurt during the holiday’s, Dr. Wolfelt offers several suggestions to help grieving people continue their healing journey during the holiday season.


Talk About Your Grief

Don't be afraid to express your feelings of grief. Ignoring your grief won't make the pain go away and talking about it openly often makes you feel better. Identify friends and relatives who understand that the holiday season can increase your sense of loss and allow you to talk openly about your feelings.


Be tolerant of Your Physical and Psychological Limits

Feelings of loss will probably leave you fatigued. Lower your own

expectations about being at your peak physically and mentally during the holiday season.


Eliminate Unnecessary Stress

You may already feel stressed, so don't overextend yourself. Avoid isolating yourself, but be sure to recognize the need to have special time for yourself. Realize also that merely "keeping busy" won't distract you from your grief, but may actually increase your level of stress.


Talk About the Person Who Has Died

Include the person's name in your holiday conversation. If you are able to talk candidly, other people are more likely to recognize your need to remember that special person who was an important part of your life.


Do What Is Right for You During the Holidays

Well-meaning friends and family often try to prescribe what is good for you during the holidays. Instead of going along with their plans, focus on what you want to do. Share your needs with your friends and family.


Plan Ahead for Family Gatherings

Decide which family traditions you want to continue and which new ones you would like to begin. Plan out the activities you want to do so you don’t get caught off guard. This can create feelings of panic, fear and anxiety when your feelings of grief are already heightened. Leave room to change your plans if you feel it is appropriate.


Embrace Your Treasure of Memories

Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. And holidays always make you think about times past. Instead of ignoring these memories, share them with your family and friends. Keep in mind that memories are tinged with both happiness and sadness.


Express Your Faith

During the holidays, you may find a renewed sense of faith or discover a new set of beliefs. Associate with people who understand and respect your need to talk about these beliefs. You may want to attend a holiday service or special religious ceremony.


Attend Holiday Hope

You may wish to participate in Holiday Hope, a program designed to help people cope with their loss during the holidays. Holiday Hope is being held at Milward Funeral Directors, 1509 Trent Boulevard, Lexington, on Monday, November 13 at 6pm. Co-sponsored by Bluegrass Care Navigators, the event will begin with refreshments, musical performance by Pianist Amy Brown and a craft for all guests at 6pm. Participate in the craft should  bring a 4”x6” color or black & white copy of a photo of your loved one. The 7pm program includes remarks by Trish Standifur, Associate Minister, Crestwood Christian Church, Lexington; musical performance; and, a candlelight ceremony to honor loved ones.   For reservations, call 859-272-3414 (requested, but not required).

KIM WADE

Kim Wade has been a marketing consultant for more than 20 years specializing in the funeral industry. Currently, she is the Community Relations Director for Milward Funeral Directors, the 37th- oldest continuously operated family business in the United States which operates three locations in Lexington including its Celebration of Life center at 1509 Trent Boulevard. Kim can be reached at marketing@milwardfuneral.com or 859-252-3411.

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