There may be no more personal emotion that mourning a loved one. Everyone is a little bit different in how they mourn and how long they mourn. Part of the reason our custom includes a visitation to celebrate a life, is to promote a healthy and very necessary emotional response. While every experience really is truly unique, there are many commonalities among people going through a mourning process. Key events and anniversaries are always liable to inspire an emotional reaction. All of these “firsts” are a reminder that your loved one who celebrated with you is no longer humanly present to do so. These times can be especially difficult. Perhaps the most positive thing about these dates and events is that they are predictable and families can make the effort to be together during these times. It’s wise to plan these events and anniversaries well in advance of the actual dates. They can often be moments of sharing very positive memories of your loved one as well.
Death can be expected or sudden. During particularly long illnesses where debilitation of mind and or body has occurred, much mourning has taken place prior to the actual moment of death. It’s not unusual for people to seem to recover emotionally a bit sooner in these circumstances. It is possible that family has been “all cried out” during a long illness where their loved one has been uncommunicative or compromised significantly over the time of the illness. In cases of sudden deaths, families may be looking for answers and trying to think of ways they may have been able to help, or prevent a death from occurring. In these cases, it is important that friends remain close and help families deal with the grief of losing someone too soon. People need assurance and reassurance from family and friends that death can come randomly and is almost completely beyond anyone’s control.
The most important thing to remember is that “Listening” is the most important gift a friend can offer. Being a good listener is being a healer. The most common phrase at a visitation is “If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask”. What nearly everyone will need is a good listener. Be ready and be generous with your time when the call comes.