Greif and Loss Help

Grief Resources

  • Beyond Indigo is a great resource for anyone dealing with a loss, planning services or caring for others. You may share your experiences with others.
  • Grief Net. org is a good place to visit if you are feeling alone in your grief. It is an online system of support groups.
  • Grief Inc. A resource for books, memorial products, and presentations.
  • Grow Is dedicated to providing each of its members with the most comprehensive website available on the Internet. We are not just about “grieving,” we are about recovery, educating and making you aware of all resources available to you.



  • The Grieving Process Depending on the nature of your relationship with the deceased, you may or may not go through a grieving process following his or her death. Grief is a universal, natural and normal response to significant loss of any kind. It is how we process and heal from an important loss. Grief can be a painful and tiring experience. Understanding the grieving experience and how best to cope with it can help you recover from grief of any kind.


  • Stages of Grief Within the first few weeks to months after a death, your grief may have you yourself riding on a roller coaster of shifting emotions. Most people go through these stages of grief and loss not in linear steps, but in unpredictable waves-moving through one stage of grief to the next and sometimes shifting back. Some people will experience certain grief stages but not others. Here are some common, typical grief reactions:Shock and Disbelief – the numbing and disorienting sense that the death has not really happened which can last from several hours to several days.

    Anger – at the deceased, yourself, others and/or your God for what has happened.

    Guilt – you may blame yourself for not doing or knowing more, or for not dealing with any “unfinished business” that you had with the deceased.

    Sadness – you may experience a deep sense of loss and grief find yourself crying. There may be a tendency to withdraw or isolate yourself. You may lose interest in your usual activities, or feel helpless or hopeless. Other recent or past losses may come back to you.

    Fear – your grief may cause anxiety or panic; fears about the future. It may bring up your fears about your own sense of mortality and that of loved ones.

    Acceptance – finally, a stage of grief where you adjust to the loss and move on from it, while continuing to honor the deceased’s memory.

People in grief from a loss may experience physical reactions, such as fatigue, sleep disruption, appetite changes, tenseness, and aches and pains. Common psychological symptoms include feeling distracted, forgetful, irritable, disoriented, or confused.


  • Ways to Cope with the Loss and grief Acknowledge the Loss – It is better to give yourself and others permission to talk about what has happened and its impact than to go on as if nothing had happened. It may be helpful to allow time at academic or staff meetings for people who want to to check in on how they are doing.Acknowledge Individual Reactions – When a co-worker or colleague dies it affects each person in the work unit or department grieve in a very different way. Some are deeply affected by the loss while others are not. Some people want to talk about their feelings brought on by grief while others want to deal with them in private. It may take some much longer than others to adjust to the loss. While many people find comfort from strong religious or spiritual beliefs, others will not share those belief systems. Be aware of the different ways that people understand and react to the loss and respect those differences.

    Be Kind to Each Other – This is not an easy time for any work group and many adjustments have to be made. People may not be at their best. Be accommodating, gentle and understanding with one another during this time of grief. Find ways to cooperate to share any additional workload.

    Self Care – You may need to give yourself extra amounts of things that nourish and replenish you – rest, relaxation, exercise, diversions. Grief from loss can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Express your thoughts and feelings to trusted people as that can be most helpful. For some it helps to write things down as a means of expression.

    Give Yourself and Others Time – In our culture there is a tendency to deny the effects of grief and loss and expect ourselves and others to quickly “get over” a loss. We also fail to acknowledge that the anniversary of losses can trigger a re-cycling of loss reactions. Allow yourself and others the time to grieve, it takes for each individual to process the loss. This loss may also bring up deaths of loved ones in the past that you will revisit.

    Funeral and Memorial Events – For many attending such events can significantly help the healing process. Managers and faculty representatives can give information to everyone on arrangements that have been made and when feasible, provide time to attend for those who are interested. If the events are out of town, people may want to find ways to memorialize the loss locally. If you are uncomfortable attending such events, you may find your own individual way of “saying goodbye”.
    Honor the Deceased – Consider honoring the person(s) who died in an appropriate way, e.g. collecting money for a charity, creating a memorial book or bulletin board, sending a letter to the deceased’s loved ones. Constructive actions, such as, donating blood or getting involved in volunteer organizations are helpful to some.

    Be Resourceful – You may need some professional assistance with your grief, if you find yourself not able to function as you would like as a result of the loss. Perhaps you have suffered other recent losses as well. Loss can trigger clinical depression which should be treated professionally. In addition to the onsite grief groups that are provided, faculty, staff, post docs and visiting scholars can call CARE Services for an individual appointment for a free and confidential consultation with a licensed staff mental health professional. If you are concerned about a coworker or colleague, remind them about CARE.


VIII. Coping with grief from the Suicide of a Friend, Colleague, or Loved One

Facts about Suicide

Most of us know very little about suicide and therefore can make false assumptions when someone we know kills themselves. For this reason it is helpful to know the following facts:

  • Suicide claims approximately 30,000 lives a year in the United States
  • Every suicide is a unique story. Suicide is a multi determined act that results from a complex interaction among many factors including but not limited to: family history of suicide, psychiatric illness such as depression, substance use, physical illness and chronic pain, hopelessness, high anxiety and agitation, life crises, access to means, and willingness to secure professional treatment.
  • Suicide is a rare, unpredictable event. Mental health professionals do the best they can to recognize and deal with suicide indicators given the complexity of a suicide event. There is no predictable “profile” of a person who will commit suicide.
  • Suicide risk factors and thinking are present in many individuals with depression who do not commit suicide.
  • Studies show that patients frequently deny to their mental health providers any suicidal ideation, intent or plan before attempting or committing suicide. In some cases, those who commit suicide appear especially functional and engaged with life before they kill themselves.
  • Suicide rates for all college-age individuals have been climbing since 1950. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those age 15 to 24 years of age. The highest rate of suicide is among white males.
  • Though there are some warning signs for suicide and intervention usually works, people with a high intent to commit suicide usually do not tell others they are thinking about suicide. They hide the information from treatment providers and family, friends and colleagues.
  • Most successful suicides are accomplished with a firearm. Men are four times more likely to die by suicide. Women make more suicide attempts than men.
  • A history of previous attempts at suicide heightens the risk of a successful suicide.

Suicide rates increase with age, especially for those age 65 and older with serious physical problems and who are divorced or lacking in social support. Common Reactions to Suicide by Someone We Know:

Unique to Each Person: Each person will have their own unique and individual response to the death by suicide of someone they know. It is important to respect these differences and understand them. Some people want to talk about it and some do not. Some people will show their reactions openly and others will not.

Shock and Disbelief: Typically people experience immense shock and disbelief when learning of a suicide. It may take quite a long time to struggle with questions about why this happened.

Irrational Guilt: Family, friends and colleagues frequently feel irrational guilt after a suicide believing that somehow they should have recognized the threat and that they could have done something to prevent the suicide. This guilt is a common reaction but it is unwarranted. Even expert and responsible mental health professionals may have trouble recognizing periods of risk.

Feelings of Inadequacy: Survivors may experience the suicide as a personal rejection. They may also feel that if they had been more knowledgeable and capable they could have prevented the suicide.

Blaming: A common reaction could include blaming those close to the victim who one thinks should have recognized any warning signs or prevented the act. This is an understandable grief reaction, but is inaccurate, unwarranted and may compound the grief of those who are left behind.

Anger: A common reaction for those close to suicides. One can feel emotionally rejected, made the object of blame or speculations, or left to handle the emotional and practical difficulties of a death by suicide. Suicide usually produces more anger than any other type of death.

Sadness: As with any loss, feelings of sadness and depression are typical aspects of the response to the death by suicide of someone we know.


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How to Write A Eulogy

Tips on how to write a funeral eulogy

1. Get Facts and Information

Marriage dates, places lived, children, and so on. Now think about the stories you remember, or the turn of phrase or typical behavior that captures your loved one’s character so well. Talk with other survivors, so the picture you present will include their ideas as well.

2. Come up with a theme

A theme gives unity to the eulogy, helping your listeners to see the rich patterns of this life. For example, let’s say you are giving the eulogy for your late mother. As your theme, you decide to talk about your mother’s ability to make a home wherever she hung her hat.

Using this theme, you describe her English childhood, her eager arrival in Montreal as a shy, young war bride, and then how she made a warm and welcoming home in every new army base to which your father’s career took them.

Another example: When speaking of a friend, you might mention the various roles your friend successfully played: Raymond the Businessman, Raymond the Family Man, and Raymond the Winning Soccer Coach.


3. Organize the funeral material

Write your notes in point form on sheets of paper or on 3×5 file cards – one idea to a card. Now group the cards into piles of similar topics. Then sort each pile of cards into a logical order.

4. Draft your funeral speech

Write out the first draft. (If you have access to a computer, use it to make your editing job easier.) Use linking sentences to make each topic flow easily into the next. Pay most attention to your beginning and ending.

As you write and polish, keep the words “celebration” and “thanksgiving” in your mind. If it is appropriate, include a few moments of humor or lightheartedness.

5. Practice your eulogy delivery

If you are not used to speaking in public, borrow a book on this topic from the library and quickly skim it to pick up some tips. Read the speech into a tape recorder and then play it back. You’ll be able to polish some more. Now stand in front of a mirror and imagine you are talking to your audience.

Above all, remember to breathe. If you are afraid you might break down while reading the eulogy, ask someone ahead of time to be ready to take over at a signal from you. Just knowing you have a backup speaker will probably be all you need to stay calm.

A eulogy is a great piece of writing used to entertain people about a person’s life, to acknowledge people who have passed away and to remember them in a special way. Eulogies are usually read at funerals. Eulogies provide information about the deceased person including personal quotes and stories, but most of all with the love that the reader had and always will have for that person.

Funeral eulogies are different in many ways. Some funeral eulogy writers may write a serious piece of work, while others may insert humor into the eulogy. In my opinion, eulogies should have humor in them: It will make not only you relax, but it will make the moment easier for your audience. When you write your eulogy, make sure that it is clear and understandable–you want your audience to understand and recognize what you are saying! If you include a memory that you don’t think your audience will remember, use “I remember when” or “I can remember.” It is easier to say something (a personal quote, story or saying) that the audience will remember about the person.

In your funeral eulogy you should always acknowledge the person you’re writing about in a positive manner. If you loved this person and the audience did, too, you shouldn’t display any negative attitude in your eulogy. Pay your respects to this person in a loving manner. Provide memories and loving details that you and the audience can remember about this person. When writing a eulogy, provide the necessary elements, but when you’re reading your eulogy, talk to the audience as though you were talking to a friend. Get the audience involved in what you are telling them. Make them laugh, make them cry; make them happy to be a part of this tribute.

When writing your eulogy, recognize the person that you are writing about for who they were. Do not make up stories of what that person did. Write about the memories you had with this person and mention the memories that everyone in your audience will remember. Make your eulogy memorable–for you and your audience. Make your audience listen and respond to you.

In conclusion, you should now know how to write a funeral eulogy. Whether it’s serious or humorous, it will come from you. Make the eulogy clear and understandable. Get your audience involved. Be the best writer you can be. After all, you are reading this to a live audience at a funeral. (Or perhaps you are reading this to a teacher in front of your whole English class for a substantial grade!)

Whoever or whatever this eulogy is for, make it perfect. Compose this piece for you, your audience and most of all for the person listening above. One thing to always remember: While writing and reading a eulogy, be yourself.


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Funeral Prayers and Prayers for a Funeral

Funeral Prayer #1 Funeral Blues
W. H. Auden
(This poem was made popular by its reading in the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”)
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, Silence the pianos and with muffled drum Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead. Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves, Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West. My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood; For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Funeral Prayer #2 From the Ode To Immortality, Stanza IX William Wordsworth
O joy! that in our embers Is something that doth live, That nature yet remembers What was so fugitive! The thought of our past years in me doth breed Perpetual benediction: not indeed For that which is most worthy to be blest– Delight and liberty, the simple creed Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest, With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:– Not for these I raise The song of thanks and praise; But for those obstinate questionings Of sense and outward things, Fallings from us, vanishings; Blank misgivings of a Creature Moving about in worlds not realised, High instincts before which our mortal Nature Did tremble like a guilty Thing surprised: But for those first affections, Those shadowy recollections, Which, be they what they may, Are yet the fountain light of all our day, Are yet a master light of all our seeing; Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make Our noisy years seem moments in the being Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake, To perish never; Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour, Nor Man nor Boy, Nor all that is at enmity with joy, Can utterly abolish or destroy! Hence in a season of calm weather Though inland far we be, Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea Which brought us hither, Can in a moment travel thither, And see the Children sport upon the shore, And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
Funeral Prayer #3 Crossing the Bar Alfred Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea, But such a tide as moving seems asleep, Too full for sound and foam, When that which drew from out the boundless deep Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness or farewell, When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crost the bar.
Funeral Prayer #4 Dirge Without Music By Edna St. Vincent Millay
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground. So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind: Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned With lilies and with laurel they go but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you. Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust. A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew, A formula, a phrase remains, but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love, They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve. More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.


Funeral Prayer #5 The Tempest, III, iv We are such stuff as dreams are made on … William Shakespeare

Our revels are now ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air; And like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-cappd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve And like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded in a sleep.


Funeral Prayer #6 Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Funeral Prayer #7 On Death Kahlil Gibran

You would know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life? The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light. If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour. Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

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Funeral Music and Music for Funeral

  Paul Alexander is a singer / song writter artist who has shared his music and message of hope throughout the United States and Canada.

His recordings are resource tools being utilized by Church Groups, Funeral Homes, Hospices, and Hospitals as well as bereavement support groups and individual caregivers.

Paul’s contemporary style combined with his compassionate lyrics and compelling vocal delivery touch the heart and soul of the listener and provide healing to all.

To listen to Paul’s Funeral and Memorial Music Click Here

For the Memorial Music Libray Click Here  

The Funeral Music Library Is a music data base of funeral music and memorial music, funeral songs in many styles, including rock, country, folk, pop, as well as gospel and classic hymns. You can listen to funeral music online and make your selections, then, if desired, purchase and download most song selections from iTunes. Funeral music often speaks to our hearts – especially in a funeral service. The use of  music for a funeral usually sets the emotional tone of the service.

Specific funeral music selections are available like: Funeral music for a father or grandfather. Funeral music for a mother or grandmother. Funeral music for a brother. Funeral music for a sister. Funeral music for a friend. Country funeral music songs. Funeral music can be played from tapes or CD’s, or by engaging musicians who play organs, guitars, keyboards, bagpipes, the bugle – even a harp. Choirs, singers, and soloists can also be arranged to sing funeral songs for a service.

There are many reasons why people include music in Funeral and Memorial Services: A particular funeral song can remind us of the person who has died and provide moments of precious memories. The lyrics of a funeral music song may actually summarize how we’re feeling better than we are able to say it ourselves. When we are dealing with overwhelming grief, music has the ability to soothe and comfort us. When making Funeral Song and Funeral Music choices, remember: There are no rules about the type of music that is best for a Funeral or Memorial Service.

Funeral music or songs that you choose should provide comfort and stimulate pleasant memories of the departed person. Funeral songs that have meaning to you and your loved one are a perfect choice; his or her favorite song, the song that was playing when you met, the songs you liked to sing along to in the car. Funeral songs that reflect the personality of your loved one are also a good choice; Jimmy Buffet for the carefree sailor, John Denver for the country boy or girl, Lois Armstrong for the trumpet player. Beautiful hymns, classical music, or gentle Celtic Aires provide soothing background music and are often the choice while people are gathering in the chapel or funeral home. Many people are easing away from traditional Funeral Songs and Funeral Music and are choosing music that reflects the taste of the person who has died. This can include modern or New Orleans jazz, country, blues, pop, or music of a specific instrument.

Funeral music has a natural way of bypassing the barriers we build against feeling various emotions. It reaches deep to the unconcsious and provides a rich opportunity for healing and accessing unspoken words, thoughts and feelings.  Funeral music within a memorial service  can serve several purposes.   As a gathering and closing it sets the time and structure for the ceremony.  Using a funeral song that is easily taught to encourage group participation is suggested for the opening and closing of a memorial.  Within the service, funeral music or songs for funerals can be used that were the deceased favorites or that spoke of qualities of the deceased or a faith they held. Using a story to introduce “why” a song is chosen can also serve as a portrait of the deceased and what was meaningful to them.  It may be a wedding song, a child’s lullaby or a song that inspired and upheld them or made them laugh.  Teenagers and children have songs that speak to them and this is a wonderful time to include them in a way that encourages their participation in choosing a funeral song.

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History of Funeral Poems

Funeral poems have been around for a long time. People almost exclusively associate a funeral eulogy or poem with the death of loved one. Modern funeral poem versions are  mostly used to pay homage to some one’s life. Two distinct styles of funeral poems have a long and surprising history. A Eulogy is used to describe nearly any speech or writing that pays tribute to a person that dies. The word is derived from the two Greek words for “you” and “word.” Eulogies can also be used to praise a person that is still alive. Appropriate in most funeral situations, some cultures and religions, like Catholicism prefer not to include them in services. The elegy dates back to classical Greek poetry. The elegiac meter contains two lines, known as a couplet and combines many of these couplets to create the funeral poem.

Funeral poem writing began long ago. One of the most influential early funeral poem writers was Callimachus whose poems and writings had dramatic impact on such classic Roman poets as Catullus, Propertius, Tibullus and Ovid. Catullus’ 85th poem is one of the better know Latin elegies. Written for his lover, Lesbia, the funeral poem expresses conflicting emotion of both love and hatred. I hate and I love. Why do I do this, you might ask? I know not, but I feel it happening and I am tortured. The feeling of helplessness expressed can be still very prevalent in modern elegies. Elegiac poetry was originally championed as simply a way to express the beauty and grandeur of what we consider a classic roman epic poem in a shorter but equally noteworthy manner. Eventually, Roman authors also began to use the elegiac form to express strong emotion as well as tell stories. The roots of funeral poetry is evidenced in some of the works of Ovid, Propertius and others who used it to tell stories like the origin of Rome and the Temple of Apollo.

Funeral Poems have evolved to pay tribute, stir emotions and pull at our hearts in a positive healing manor. It was some of the English poets like Lord Tennyson and Thomas Gray that gave modern funeral poems the somber tones we have grown accustomed to. “Lady of Shalott” by Tennyson retained the elegiac tone and paired the praise it offered with a very mournful funeral poem tone. Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Courtyard” inspired many funeral poets of the time to take up the elegy. Most of these other funeral poem writers used the format to express solitude and mourning in a very general way. Funeral poems of the Romantic era attempted to use elegiac poetry in a lyrical way. Samuel Taylor Coleridge claimed the elegy was “most natural to the reflective mind.” After the Romantic period, however, the funeral poem became more and more synonymous with lamentation. Eventually, the form of poems for funerals settled into its common modern use as a way to mourn and celebrate the dead. The eulogy and elegy both have a long, varied history that has led them to become the most popular poetry form for expressing loss, love and sorrow. Though they differ in origin, age and versatility, both forms of funeral poem  lamentation can be a touching and heartfelt tribute to a newly departed loved one. These memorial funeral poem formats can be used as a farewell or a way to help the bereaved find comfort and closure in incredibly difficult times. Whether used in a speech, obituary or epitaph, eulogies and elegies are beautiful ways to pay tribute to a life well lived.

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Funeral Ceremony and Funeral Ceremonies

Why Is Funeral Ceremony So Important?

by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

“When words are inadequate, have a ritual.”

Rituals are symbolic activities that help us, together with our families and friends, express our deepest thoughts and feelings about life’s most important events. Baptism celebrates the birth of a child and that child’s acceptance into the church family. Birthday parties honor the passing of another year in the life of someone we love. Weddings publicly affirm the private love shared by two people.

The funeral ceremony, too, is a public, traditional and symbolic means of expressing our beliefs, thoughts and feelings about the death of someone loved. Rich in history and rife with symbolism, the funeral ceremony helps us acknowledge the reality of the death, gives testimony to the life of the deceased, encourages the expression of grief in a way consistent with the culture’s values, provides support to mourners, allows for the embracing of faith and beliefs about life and death, and offers continuity and hope for the living.

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Unfortunately, our mourning-avoiding culture has to a large extent forgotten these crucial purposes of the meaningful funeral ceremony. As a death educator and grief counselor, I am deeply concerned that individuals, families and ultimately society as a whole will suffer if we do not reinvest ourselves in the funeral ritual.

This article explores the grief-healing benefits of meaningful funeral ceremony. The funerals-benefits we are losing to the deritualization is a ongoing trend.

I have discovered that a helpful way to teach about the purposes of authentic funeral ceremonies is to frame them up in the context of the “reconciliation needs of mourning”-my twist on what other author’s have called the “tasks of mourning.” The reconciliation needs of mourning are the six needs that I believe to be the most central to healing in grief. In other words, bereaved people who have these needs met, through their own grief work and through the love and compassion of those around them, are most often able to reconcile their grief and go on to find continued meaning in life and living.

How the authentic funeral ceremony helps meet the six reconciliation needs of mourning:

Funeral Ceremony Need #1. Acknowledge the reality of the death.

When someone loved dies, we must openly acknowledge the reality and the finality of the death if we are to move forward with our grief. Typically, we embrace this reality in two phases. First we acknowledge the death with our minds; we are told that someone we loved has died and, intellectually at least, we understand the fact of the death. Over the course of the following days and weeks, and with the gentle understanding of those around us, we begin to acknowledge the reality of the death in our hearts. This is one of the basic purposes of having a funeral ceremony.

Meaningful funeral ceremonies can serve as wonderful points of departure for “head understanding” of the death. Intellectually, funeral ceremonies teach us that someone we loved is now dead, even though up until the funeral we may have denied this fact. When we contact the funeral home, set a time for the service, plan the funeral ceremony, view the body, perhaps even choose clothing and jewelry for the body, we cannot avoid acknowledging that the person has died. When we see the casket being lowered into the ground, we are witness to death’s finality.

Funeral Ceremony Need #2. Move toward the pain of the loss.

As our acknowledgment of the death progresses from what I call “head understanding” to “heart understanding,” we begin to embrace the pain of the loss-another need the bereaved must have met if they are to heal. Healthy grief means expressing our painful thoughts and feelings, and healthy funeral ceremonies allow us to do just that.

People tend to cry, even sob and wail, at funerals because funeral ceremony forces us to concentrate on the fact of the death and our feelings, often excruciatingly painful, about that death. For at least an hour or two-longer for mourners who plan the funeral ceremony or attend the visitation-those attending the funeral are not able to intellectualize or distance themselves from the pain of their grief. To their credit, funeral ceremonies also provide us with an accepted venue for our painful feelings. They are perhaps the only time and place, in fact, during which we as a society condone such openly outward expression of our sadness.

Funeral Ceremony Need #3. Remember the person who died.

To heal in grief, we must shift our relationship with the person who died from one of physical presence to one of memory. The authentic funeral ceremony encourages us to begin this shift, for it provides a natural time and place for us to think about the moments we shared-good and bad-with the person who died. Like no other time before or after the death, the funeral ceremony invites us to focus on our past relationship with that one, single person and to share those memories with others.

At traditional funeral ceremonies, the eulogy attempts to highlight the major events in the life of the deceased and the characteristics that he or she most prominently displayed. This is helpful to mourners, for it tends to prompt more intimate, individualized memories. Later, after the funeral ceremony itself, many mourners will informally share memories of the person who died. This, too, is meaningful. Throughout our grief journeys, the more we are able “tell the story”-of the death itself, of our memories of the person who died-the more likely we will be to reconcile our grief. Moreover, the sharing of memories at the funeral ceremony affirms the worth we have placed on the person who died, legitimizing our pain. Often, too, the memories others choose to share with us at the funeral ceremony are memories that we have not heard before. This teaches us about the dead person’s life apart from ours and allows us glimpses into that life that we may cherish forever.

Funeral Ceremony Need #4. Develop a new self-identity.

Another primary reconciliation need of mourning is the development of a new self-identity. We are all social beings whose lives are given meaning in relation to the lives of those around us. I am not just Alan Wolfelt, but a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a friend. When someone close to me dies, my self-identity as defined in those ways changes.

The funeral ceremony helps us begin this difficult process of developing a new self-identity because it provides a social venue for public acknowledgment of our new roles. If you are a parent of a child and that child dies, the funeral ceremony marks the beginning of your life as a former parent (in the physical sense; you will always have that relationship through memory). Others attending the funeral are in effect saying, & quot;We acknowledge your changed identity and we want you to know we still care about you.” On the other hand, in situations where there is no funeral ceremony, the social group does not know how to relate to the person whose identity has changed and often that person is socially abandoned. In addition, having supportive friends and family around us at the time of the funeral ceremony helps us realize we literally still exist. This self-identity issue is illustrated by a comment the bereaved often make: “When he died, I felt like a part of me died, too.”

Funeral Ceremony Need #5. Search for meaning.

When someone loved dies, we naturally question the meaning of life and death. Why did this person die? Why now? Why this way? Why does it have to hurt so much? What happens after death? To heal in grief, we must explore these types of questions if we are to become reconciled to our grief. In fact, we must first ask these “why” questions to decide why we should go on living before we can ask ourselves how we will go on living. This does not mean we must find definitive answers, only that we need the opportunity to think (and feel) things through.

On a more fundamental level, the funeral reinforces one central fact of our existence: we will die. Like living, dying is a natural and unavoidable process. (We North Americans tend not to acknowledge this.) Thus the funeral ceremony helps us search for meaning in the life and death of the person who died as well as in our own lives and impending deaths. Each funeral we attend serves as a sort of dress rehearsal for our own.

Funerals are a way in which we as individuals and as a community convey our beliefs and values about life and death. The very fact of a funeral demonstrates that death is important to us. For the living to go on living as fully and as healthily as possible, this is as it should be.

Funeral Ceremony Need #6. Receive ongoing support from others.

As we have said, funerals are a public means of expressing our beliefs and feelings about the death of someone loved. In fact, funerals are the public venue for offering support to others and being supported in grief, both at the time of the funeral ceremony and into the future. Funerals make a social statement that says, “Come support me.” Whether they realize it or not, those who choose not to have a funeral are saying, “Don’t come support me.”

Funerals ceremonies let us physically demonstrate our support, too. Sadly, ours is not a demonstrative society, but at funerals we are “allowed” to embrace, to touch, to comfort. Again, words are inadequate so we non verbally demonstrate our support. This physical show of support is one of the most important healing aspects of meaningful funeral ceremonies.

Finally, and most simply, funeral ceremonies serve as the central gathering place for mourners. When we care about someone who died or his family members, we attend the funeral if at all possible. Our physical presence is our most important show of support for the living. By attending the funeral we let everyone else there know that they are not alone in their grief.

The Mourners Bill of Rights

by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Though you should reach out to others as you do the work of mourning, you should not feel obligated to accept the unhelpful responses you may receive from some people. You are the one who is grieving, and as such, you have certain rights no one should try to take away from you.

The following list is intended both to empower you to heal and to decide how others can and cannot help. This is not to discourage you from reaching out to others for help, but rather to assist you in distinguishing useful responses from hurtful ones.

1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief.
No one else will grieve in exactly the same way you do. So, when you turn to others for help, don’t allow them to tell what you should or should not be feeling.

2. You have the right to talk about your grief.
Talking about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others who will allow you to talk as much as you want, as often as you want, about your grief. If at times you don’t feel like talking, you also have the right to be silent.

3. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions.
Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt and relief are just a few of the emotions you might feel as part of your grief journey. Others may try to tell you that feeling angry, for example, is wrong. Don’t take these judgmental responses to heart. Instead, find listeners who will accept your feelings without condition.

4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you feeling fatigued. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. And don’t allow others to push you into doing things you don’t feel ready to do.

5. You have the right to experience griefbursts.
Sometimes, out of nowhere, a powerful surge of grief may overcome you. This can be frightening, but is normal and natural. Find someone who understands and will let you talk it out.

6. You have the right to make use of ritual.
The funeral ceremony does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide you with the support of caring people. More importantly, the funeral is a way for you to mourn. If others tell you the funeral or other healing rituals such as these are silly or unnecessary, don’t listen.

7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality.
If faith is a part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you feel angry at God, find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of your feelings of hurt and abandonment.

8. You have the right to search for meaning.
You may find yourself asking, “Why did he or she die? Why this way? Why now?” Some of your questions may have answers, but some may not. And watch out for the clinched responses some people may give you. Comments like, “It was God’s will” or “Think of what you have to be thankful for” are not helpful and you do not have to accept them.

9. You have the right to treasure your memories.
Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. You will always remember. Instead of ignoring your memories, find others with whom you can share them.

10. You have the right to move toward your grief and heal.
Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself and avoid people who are impatient and intolerant with you. Neither you nor those around you must forget that the death of someone loved changes your life forever.

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Funeral Poem Writting Tips

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Funeral Poams Writting will give you great piece of mind and heart felt satisfaction. good way to prepare yourself to write a funeral poem is to read some funeral poems written by others, for others. This can help put you on the right track to write a funeral poem that is personal that you can custom craft to fit the person that you will remember with a poem for a funeral.

Do some research by asking questions to friends and the family of the deceased. You my have you own memories to draw from, but is always a good idea to get the influence of others when constructing a poem for a funeral.

The Subject:

Commonly known as the ‘Theme’ of the funeral poem, this is the important starting point and central point of your work. In the case of a poem for a funeral, the subject is the person who has died. The funeral poem might be more about general life and how the life of the deceased has effected others. You decide what part of the life that was lived, your words will get across to the world at large, via your funeral poem? Is it a story, an experience, a description of events. Or a funeral poem in description of the person themselves?

An interesting way to take the jump from this point is writing down the words, phrases or sentences that come to your mind when you are thinking about the the life that was lived and what parts to include in your funeral poem. Don’t worry if nothing sounds or feels right, just write it down for now, you have to star somewhere when writting a poem for a funeral.

The Feeling:

A funeral poems, no matter how descriptive it may be, is not to be used to state the obvious. We all know that the Joe was funny, for example. What you need to express in your funeral poem is what you felt when Joe made you laugh. What emotions did he evoke within you? What were you going through at the time and how did seeing Joe, change or enhance your feelings at that moment of time? With your words, you have to convey what you feel or felt. The readers have to understand the depth of what you were going through. A poem for a funeral is essentially about the emotions of the poet.

The Mood:

How do you want the funeral poems to portray your thoughts, ideas and feelings via this poem for a funeral? Do you want to make it a serious funeral poem, or a funny one, a sarcastic one or an irreverent one? Remember the grief that many at the funeral poem reading are feeling. The mood can often help you convey the feelings more effectively.

Once you have your feeling words in place, you can choose different moods of the poem for a funeral and try to write a sentence or two that contains the theme and the feeling in these various moods. Which mood do you like the best? Which mood conveys what you feel about the deceased more effectively?

The Style:

Choose a style of writing the funeral poem from among several – from classical to the modern contemporary styles of writing poetry, there are many to choose from. Pick a style which is easier for you to work with. Most modern poets often use the free verse style of poetry. Although, to the beginner, this style may not have a formal structure and sound easy to write in, look closely at the work of popular free verse poets and you will find a basic form lurking somewhere.

An exercise to try out at this juncture is to write down your thoughts about something or someone in free verse and then trying to see if you can put those lines into another well-known structure or style of writing poetry. Perhaps a few changes here and there and it might do the trick. Try doing that with two or three styles and find one which you are more comfortable with. This process will help you revise your work and find your style at the same time.

The Audience:

Who are you writing poem for a funeral for? The audience of the funeral poem can help you choose the language, the style and the words to be used in your piece. Will the poem be read at a funeral or memorial. A small or large group. What is the audience feeling in relationship to the death. Was it a young person who died tragically or the peaceful end to a life well lived. Every death is unique and you need to keep in mind what people are feeling when constructing a poem for a funeral.

Read out loud your funeral poem to a few of your friends, relatives, and neighbors etc who fit in with your description of your target audience. Ask for their feedback and what they felt about the funeral poem. Don’t take negative feedback or criticism to heart – it is in fact a learning experience all the way. Try and try till you get the funeral poem just right.

Poems for Funerals Writing Tips

Funeral Poems Writing Tip #1

Use your fond memories and think about the persons special personality, style and taste. You might mention a good deed or accomplishment when writing a funeral poem. It’s a good idea to create a list or basic outline for your poem. Its good to dive deep into the roots of a personality as a bases for the funeral poem.

Funeral Poems Writing Tip #2 All poems need not rhyme. This is especially true for funeral poems. Rhyming takes much skill and often comes off wishy-washy and adds humor. When writing a poem for a funeral it is OK to have a little humor, but take care not to have too much, after all it is a funeral. So if your good and care is used a rhyme can help gracefully link verses of a poem for a funeral.

Funeral Poems Writing Tip #3 Refer to the noted you have taken when you interviewed survivors. Their memories can be woven into a poem that reflects the true essence of the life that was lived. As you write continue to good back and read your words aloud. This is the best way to get the words to flow, and to practice your delivery of the funeral poem. Subtle changes or rearranging words is often all it takes to make the connections that will connect with the hearts of others as the funeral poem is read.

Funeral Poems Writing Tip #4 If the poem conger’s up emotions and fond reflections, then you are on the right track to a well written poem for a funeral. When the tissues come out at the reading of the poems, as peoples fond memories are brought to the surface, that’s when you know you have hit it in the head.

Funeral Poems Writing Tip #5 Write a funeral poem that exemplifies the deceased personality. Use sensory descriptive language whenever possible. Try to include a sight, smell, sound, touch and taste if possible, because vivid details convey emotion.

Funeral Poems Writing Tip #6 Share your poem with a trusted friend or family member who can listen with a neutral ear. Ask for constructive feedback, focusing on whether the poem is moving as well as free of out of character references. Keep in mind the religion and beliefs of the deceased and take care not to inadvertently add you own beliefs and spiritual values.

Funeral Poems Writing Tip #7 Funeral poems are dedication composed by the people close to the dead person’s heart. Some opt to use these poems as part of their eulogies. Others might just read it during the wake or some may even refuse to share the composition to the crowd. They just keep it for themselves as part of their memories with the dead person.

Whatever the purpose for writing a funeral poem, it does not change these words are woven into an art form and are written due to the sadness of people losing a loved one.

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