PRE-PLANNING ONE'S FINAL WISHES SPARES LOVED ONES FROM EMOTIONAL AND FINANCIAL BURDENS

If your death occurred today, would your loved one know how to arrange your funeral wishes and how you would like to be celebrated?

When death occurs there are numerous things that all need to be done quickly, such as:....


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SUPPORT GROUPS HELP FAMILIES HEAL WHEN SOMEONE DIES

Someone you love has died and you are now faced with the difficult, but important, need to mourn. According to Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D,   Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition “Mourning is the open expression of your thoughts and feelings regarding the death and the person who has died. It is an essential part of healing.”

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GRIEF THERAPY DOGS HELP REDUCE STRESS AND COMFORT HUMANS

Scientists have proven petting animals can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and even create a hormonal response that raises serotonin levels and helps fight depression.  For many years, therapy dogs have been on the scene where natural disasters or traumatic events have occurred. According to the American Kennel Club, a therapy dog goes with its owners to volunteer in settings such as schools, hospitals and nursing homes. From working with a child who is learning to read to visiting a senior in....

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FINDING THE RIGHT WORDS TO HELP CHILDREN COPE WITH DEATH

As a funeral director, I am sometimes asked what is the best way to talk with grieving children about death. While every situation is unique, here are some suggestions from Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., for communicating with your child in most circumstances.


Be honest and open.

The child’s ability to cope with grief will depend upon your being honest and open about the death. While you may think not talking about death will help your child forget about it, you may actually be causing your child to feel confused and alone.


Share your feelings.

A natural part of healing is understanding others are grieving similar to you. Allowing your children to see you crying and afraid will help them understand they are not alone in their grief. Experiencing grief together will help everyone heal together.


Answer questions directly.

When your child asks you questions, don’t be afraid to honestly answer them. Keep answers as short and positive as you can.


Avoid euphemisms.

Young children take things literally. It is better to say “Grandmother

has died” rather than “Grandmother is asleep.” Abstractions are often confusing and children cannot cope with something they don’t truly understand. Protecting children from the truth doesn’t help them conquer their grief.


Express support through physical gestures.

Holding, hugging and snuggling are ways to show affection and comfort your child during their time of grief.


When talking about the death or the child’s grief, be sincere and relaxed. Do your best to make sure your child understands it is OK to express how they are feeling. Sometimes it’s easier for older children to talk without direct eye contact or while doing something else, such as riding in the car, walking, cooking or doing another activity together. Be as casual as possible. If a conversation seems too difficult for your children, allow them to express themselves through drawing, writing, singing or whatever they are more comfortable with.


Be sure to attend to your own grief. If you are a family member, most likely you are also grieving the loss of the person who died. When you are overwhelmed by death, it’s hard to think of anything else, including the needs of those around you.

It’s important for you to carve out time for and honor your own grief. If you are responsible for the full-time care of a child, you will have to do the same for him or her — creating time for him or her to grieve with you and separately. Giving attention to another’s grief can be challenging when a loss has shaken you deeply, but try your best to be available to your child. If, understandably, you just can’t do it right now, find another loving adult who can.


If the task is too large for you and your circle of friends and family to handle, enlist a professional counselor or seek the help of grief support groups as needed. Remember to be gentle with yourself. And remember you are doing the best you can.

ANGIE WALTERS

Angie Walters has been a funeral director for five years. She recently joined Milward Funeral Directors, the 37th oldest continuously operated family business in the United States. Milward has three locations in Lexington, including its Celebration of Life Center at 1509 Trent Boulevard. Angie can be reached at Milward Funeral Directors-Broadway by calling

(859) 252-3411.

more articles by Angie Walters