Grief is the journey . . .

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Distance and Death | How to Recover From Loss When You Can't Say Goodbye

Posted on January 21, 2018 at 12:45 AM



100 years ago, when someone died, it might take months for word to reach loved ones more than a few miles away. Not being at the funeral wasn’t shameful or something to regret, it was just a part of life. Today, however, news travels across the globe instantly and we feel obligated to react no matter where we are or what we are doing. But we can’t always do that.


Living outside of the country, insecure finances, and responsibilities at home can prevent our presence at end-of-life celebrations for those we love. Individuals undergoing inpatient drug or alcohol abuse treatment may also be unable to interrupt rehabilitation at its most crucial point. Here are a few tips on how to ease into the healing process when distance is a barrier to the support you so desperately need.


Make the best of technology.


Technology makes it easy to hear hard news but it can also work to bring you together with your surviving loved ones when someone dies. In addition to helping you stay connected, tools such as Facebook Live can actually help you witness your family or friend’s final farewell. Frazer Consultants suggests that funeral homes use FB Live to educate families about end-of-life services, but it can also be used to live stream the funeral. While some may consider it in poor taste, videoing a funeral service is not a new idea. Webcasting was first introduced to the industry back in 2002 and today, more than half of all funeral services are broadcast online.


Help with planning.


Even if you cannot be in the same room with your family, you can take some of the pressure off them by planning aspects of the service or dealing with insurance and other legal matters. If you loved one played sports, for instance, you might put together a video compilation of their greatest on-field achievements to play at the memorial.


Focus on your emotional wellbeing.


It isn’t selfish to feel depressed or down-and-out after a loved one passes. It’s expected. But being far away can exacerbate these feelings and add to them feelings of guilt and isolation. This is especially true for recovering addicts, who must make self-care a priority each and every day. DrugRehab.org explains that, “Everything you do can be tied to your mental health…” This means that you must continue to make positive choices despite your anguish. Don’t be afraid to connect with others in your position who are physically close by. You will benefit from having a caring support network. Your faraway family will also benefit knowing that you are taking steps to prevent relapse.


Do something to honor your loved one’s memory.


Not having the opportunity to say farewell doesn’t mean you can’t release yourself from the pain of loss. One of the most therapeutic ways to do this is to create your own memorial in honor of the departed. A memorial scholarship is an excellent way to ensure your loved one’s memory remains. While it can be pricey (Kiplinger notes that college endowment funds are $1,000 at the lowest end and more than $100,000 on the high side). However, you can pledge money to a private, local, or non-profit group in much lower amounts and still make an impact in their name. The Humane Society, elementary schools, and even youth sports organizations will often accept a memorial donation.


No matter how you choose to grieve and honor the ones you’ve lost, remember that distance does not define your love for them. You will do your loved one no favors by falling into unhealthy patterns or engaging in risky behaviors. Stay in touch with remaining family and say goodbye in your own way. Take heart that they will be smiling you from their ethereal existence knowing that you still care.


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By Janice Miller, Contributing Author.  Janice Miller has always been an advocate for ensuring safety. It started just in the community, in a physical neighborhood but the more she engaged herself online she has found that there is a need to ensure safety on the interweb as well. When she isn’t writing for SafetyToday.org, Ms. Miller fosters dogs and helps place them with forever homes.


Categories: Message of Hope

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