Holidays are about family and friends and if you have lost someone you loved this year, the season can be a very difficult time to find joy. When planning how to navigate through, there will doubtlessly be traditions that remind you of the times you shared together. It will be up to how strong you are feeling to decide whether or not you want to continue with those activities or holiday rituals. One thing that might make it just a bit easier is to start a new tradition - focusing on things that would have mattered to those you have lost. Here are a few suggestions gathered from a detailed article on the subject on the website, whatsyourgrief.com.
Thanksgiving is the most wondrous of holidays and it has yet to become commercialized. There is only so much one can do with turkeys. But the truly special aspect of this American tradition is that the focus is not on getting, but giving. It's even in the name. The day is truly all about giving, especially giving thanks. One of the most memorable Thanksgiving gifts someone shared with me was when I received a note of thanks from a friend. It was totally unexpected and was such a pleasant surprise. The card wasn't elaborate or fancy, it was just simply a note of thanks for being a friend. It meant so much and I remember thinking at the time that I wish I would have done the same for the special people in my life. It's an easy way to make this holiday special, especially for those individuals who may not have family or friends to celebrate with on Thanksgiving Day. If this is something that you think would bring a smile to someone you love, it is not too late. You can certainly find some nice note cards or even make your own. Send them off to one special friend or a multitude of people. It will bring to life the true meaning of Thanksgiving for you and those you love.
Have you seen the movie Disney movie Coco? It not, we can highly recommend it. It is colorful, joyful and sends a wonderful message about the spiritual relationship that remains after a loved one has passed. It is about the traditions of Dia de los Muertos, a holiday that originated in Mexico thousands of years ago, but is now celebrated throughout the world. In the Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle and Dia de los Muertos is not a day of sadness, but one of celebration as loved ones who have passed awake and re-connect with those still on Earth. Celebrations take place from October 31 - November 2 and include visits to grave sites with gifts and the creation of elaborate private alters called ofrendas which honor the deceased. There are also parades and family gatherings with calaveras (colorful decorative skulls). Although many cultures have adopted Dia de los Muertos as a common celebration, especially now in the United States, similar celebrations are held at this time of year all over the world. These can be known as Allhallowtide, All Saints' Eve, All Saint's Day or All Souls' Day. Whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, by whatever name, the purpose is the same, to honor those who have passed with love and remembrance.
Here are a few tips that will help you get started on writing a journal after the loss of someone you love.
Keeping a journal has so many benefits, but during a time of grief, the emotional advantages are many. Those who suffer a loss are often bombarded with emotions and memories regarding their loved one's passing. Putting pen to paper with these thoughts can be an extremely positive way to deal with the loss. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider journaling:
To continue our series on how to deal with someone's passing on social media, here are the final six rules.
Rule #6: Respond on the Medium From Which You Heard the News. If you found out about the death on Facebook and not through a personal call, email or text, it was the choice of the family. So best to respond in the same way. With a loss, especially when it is sudden, the family can be bombarded with texts and calls. They probably want to avoid having to respond directly to each individual, so it is best to respect that. Also, keep in mind that again, it is their choice as to what social media platforms to use to share the news. If you learned of the passing on Facebook, avoid sharing on Twitter, Instagram or other means.
Rule #7: Decide Whether to Keep the Departed's Online Profiles. There is really no right or wrong way to handle the online profile of someone who is deceased. But again, this should be the family's choice. Some decide to leave the profile accessible, sometimes using it as a memorial page.
Rule#8: Make Your Own Wishes Known. It is really never too soon, to make your wishes known about how you want your passing to be managed on social media. Just as it is a good idea to consider pre-planning your funeral, you can also share your thoughts with your loved ones regarding this issue. It is a gift to those you love, to let them know your wishes, making one less decision that is in their hands at your time of passing.
Rule #9: Avoid Platitudes. Just as when you send a sympathy card or speak to someone after they have experienced a loss, chose your words carefully. There are many phrases and platitudes used when someone passes, not all necessarily bring comfort. Honesty, sincerity and simplicity is usually the best way to go.
Rule #10: Check Your Privacy Settings. This is always a good practice to do every so often but when you are sharing very personal news, it is good to know who the information is going to. Have a look at your privacy settings on all devices. They may be different on your phone, laptop or tablet.
Rule #11: Don't Give In To A Grief Olympics. You've seen it before, when the comments on someone's passing, gives way to a stream of long and detailed comments. Best to avoid using the platform to express your own grief, rather than sending sincere condolences to the family. Express how you are dealing with the loss in person or by sending a card to the family.
The above information summarizes an article by Kimberly Hiss for the Reader's Digest. Access the full article here.
How often have you found out about the loss of a friend via social media, especially Facebook? For those who are active on this platform, there are some guidelines that may be helpful in determining the right way to handle posts about someone's passing. Author Kimberly Hiss, in an article for Reader's Digest, offered 11 Etiquette Rules for Dealing with Death on Social Media. Our next two blogs will summarize these suggestions.
Rule #1: There are no set ways to deal with death on social media. There is no right way, or wrong way to post about the passing of a loved one. It is truly a personal choice of the family who is grieving. So, whether or not you agree with the way the family is managing the loss on social media, it is best to take your cue from them. Whether or not you choose to engage on social media is your choice.
Rule #2: Let the closest loved ones post first. When you hear the news of someone's death, the instant reaction is often to tell others who share the acquaintance. But best to hold back on that reaction and let the family members make the decision as to if, when and how they want to announce the passing of their loved ones. They should be the ones to determine what information is shared and what social media platforms used.
Rule #3: A Helpful Way to Streamline Logistics. Once the death has been announced, social media has the power to reach people across the world. It can be an immensely useful tool to spread the word about funeral or memorial services, charitable donations or details on the passing. If you choose to share the information, be cognizant of your audience.
Rule #4: Get Your Facts Straight. Before you comment or share information, it is best to do your due diligence and check your sources. If the post has come directly from the family, your information should be accurate, but it you are sharing someone else's post, it is probably best to fact check by visiting the initial source page or feed to ensure you have all the right details.
Rule #5: Be Careful With Those Details. Be sure not to create your own story or interpretation of someone else's information. If there are details are left out about the death, that was probably intended. It isn't your place to provide information that the family chose not to include. Always let the family or core group surrounding the loss provide the details.
Part two of this series will post on September 19th.
Why do we feel sad when a celebrity dies? In most cases, we don't personally know them, but we may indeed have a relationship with them or at least with the things they did that created their celebrity. Remembering back a few years when Huell Howser died, I mourned. I felt silly about it as well, not ever having come in contact with the man. But I think I was mourning what he represented, a friendly curiosity in learning about what kinds of things were special to people throughout our state. Whether it was talking with someone who caught the largest sea bass on the West Coast or finding a tiny house built beneath a canopy of trees on a remote piece of land, he had a way of finding a gem in the ordinary. I always felt good after spending an hour or so with him on television. As for the man himself, I knew little, but I knew his television persona and to think I would not be able to travel with him to places unknown, made me sad. Was I crazy? Was I unique? I don't think so. When a celebrity dies, an actor, a singer, an artist, we not only mourn their passing, but also the promise of more from them. Another masterpiece, another song, another great scientific achievement. Grief and its causes can take so many forms and my belief is if you feel grief, it's real and no one should laugh, ridicule or tell you that you shouldn't be sad. I believe, that in contrast to grieving a family member or friend, this type of grief is easier to manage, but it is still very real. So if you miss someone, whether you know them or not, feel free to grieve, embrace in what they gave to the world and be glad that you were here to share time on earth while they were here as well.
When we die, so much is left behind aside from memories. Homes that are filled with important papers, keepsakes, clothing, jewelry, furniture, even pets. Many people help remove the burden of tasks that occur with their passing by pre-arranging for their funerals and memorial services, clearly indicating what should be done. Completed trusts and wills are common, which is extremely important and can save countless hours of time, money and emotional strife to those who are grieving. But do you have a plan to help your loved ones in their efforts to deal with your personal belongings? Have you given thought to whom you may want items to bequeathed? Most wills or trusts only cover expensive items or family heirlooms to be passed along to younger generations. What about your favorite piece of art, a recipe book or wood shop full of tools? If you have individuals, either family members or friends who you would like to have any special items, there is no better time than now to record your thoughts. A simple handwritten log or an excel sheet on your computer is a great way to start. Set it up and when you think about something you would like to give to someone special in your life, jot it down, record it. And, make sure to tell someone where this document can be found when you are gone. This will be of immense benefit to those who will be managing your affairs, bringing them comfort knowing that they are doing as you wished.
When you are on the other side of loss, a place where you are grieving for a friend who has suffered the passing of a loved one, it is hard to know how to comfort them. Many times, we send sympathy cards to let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers. Fortunately, today there are many beautiful cards available with pre-written sentiments that express how we feel. But often, especially when it is a close personal friend, we want to personalize the message, something that be quite challenging. So what do you do when the words won't come? A good way to put your thoughts into words is to search for quotes, poems or sayings that mean something to you. You don't need to copy the quote, but it may help shape your thoughts. You can begin with a simple, "My deepest condolences to you upon the passing of..." or "You are in our prayers during this difficult time in the loss of...". Following with a memory of the individual who has passed, or citing the relationship your friend had with that individual is one of the best ways to let someone know that you understand what they are going through. For example, "I know how much your Uncle meant to you and all the memories you have from visits to his home," or "Your brother, I know, was your closest friend, may the memories of all the wonderful years you had together give you strength." The person is grieving for a loss, letting them know that you understand its depth will surely bring them comfort. The most important thing is to not to avoid sending your condolences because you can't find the words. Even if you simply send a card that has a message that expresses what you feel, knowing that you care and are keeping them close in your heart will mean more than most words can convey.