Breaking bad news to others is never easy. Informing someone that someone close to them has passed away is even worse. In efforts to help you make it through this conversation Here are 3 Things to Keep in Mind When Delivering News That Someone Has Died:
1.Check Your Facts
The first thing that you want to do before informing anyone of a death is to CHECK YOUR FACTS. By any and all means necessary you want to do your best to confirm that a death has indeed taken place. If possible gather as much information as you can without pressing or invading the privacy of the deceased and the family/ closest loved ones and be sure that your information is accurate and reliable. This may be hard to do especially if someone has just died but trust me, once the dust settles and the tears have dried your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
2.Be Aware of the Environment
“There is a time and place for everything”. Truer words have never been spoken. It is so important to keep this in mind when sharing the news of someone’s passing. While it is important to be upfront and honest with the recipient of the news it is also necessary to make sure that they are in a place where they are safe and if at all possible can be supported by someone else. Avoid giving bad news of any kind to someone who is in a situation where their response could potentially cause them physical harm or put them in any kind of danger.
3.Be Prepared for Every and Any Reaction
Grief is expressed in innumerable ways unique to each and every one of us. Most often, we are shocked at the news of someone close to us passing away; even when the death was expected. Expression of emotion displayed when learning of a death can range anywhere from uncontrollable tears to fits of rage. When informing someone that their loved one or someone close to them has died it is vital that you are mentally, emotionally and yes even physically prepared for any possible reaction. It is also of great importance that you, the bearer of bad news) not take any reaction personal. Do your best to be of comfort and support to the person or persons receiving the news while understanding that regardless of their reaction… nothing is directed at you.
Refrain from Posting Personal Details on Social Media
We live in the age of social media. We receive our news, life event updates and just about everything else from a variety of online sources. Unfortunately, in many cases this also includes notifications of death. How many times have you seen BREAKING NEWS concerning the death of a celebrity or public figure pop up in your notifications on Facebook or Twitter?
Have you ever noticed that in each and every press conference or confirmation of death from the families’ representative they ask for the same thing? That thing being “respect for the family’s privacy during this difficult time”. It is my personal belief that this is done to give the family enough time to find out exactly what has happened, inform key individuals and to keep personal details and information that may be detrimental to the reputation of the deceased private or to stay ahead of their release to the public. I also believe that this same courtesy should be given to each and every family.
3Sharing too many details online can lead to unnecessary conflict and a number of other issues that can be avoided by practicing the art of discretion. Even if you have privy to all of the details surrounding someone’s death please, please, please refrain from sharing them on social media. The simple fact is that if the family (in this case I am referring to the next of kin) wants those details released; in their own time and in their own way they will release them.
According to Google, "condolences are an expression of sympathy for someone who is experiencing pain arising from death, deep mental anguish, or misfortune". I think that we can all agree that expressing our condolences to someone that has recently lost a loved one is not something that any of us look forward to doing.
In order to help here are 5 Things That You Need to Know About Expressing Your Condolences that can help you effectively communicate your thoughts and offer comfort to someone experiencing a loss:
1. Don’t Say Anything Unless It’s Sincere and Heartfelt
At all cost, please avoid saying something just to be saying it. Expressing your condolences should be authentic, sincere and heartfelt. If you are not feeling it in your gut, don’t say it at all.
2. You Don’t Have to Bring Up The Death or Loss
Saying something like “I know that you are going through a really rough time and I just want you to know that I am praying for you and thinking of you and your family” addresses their loss while offering encouragement and support without directly mentioning death.
3.If You Can’t Say It Write It
Words are so powerful, especially when they are written down. By writing your words in a card or in some other creative fashion your offer the mourner or person experiencing the loss something to hold on to that they can return to in the future over and over again when they need it.
4. It’s Okay to Talk About Something Else
Sometimes the last thing that someone who is experiencing a loss wants to talk about is the loss. At times it is too difficult and other times they simply just want to focus on something else to get their mind off of what they are going through. Being that friend or supporter who offers them a breath of fresh air, laughter and NORMAL conversation can be such a treat for the both of you.
5. Each “I’m Sorry” Could Make the Loss More of a Reality
Keep in mind that grief can be compared to a wave of emotions. Some moments are full of emotional highs and others are emotional lows. At times hearing the words “I’m sorry for your loss” (said with even the best intentions) can be a trigger causes someone to crash into an emotional low because it reaffirms the reality in which their loved one no longer exist physically.
I am always eager to hear from you all. What are your suggestions on how to best express condolences to someone experiencing a loss? Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I am so excited to get to know each and every one of my you. Because I ask that each of you open up and share such a personal part of your journey with me it is only fair that I do the same. In this video, I address questions that I have received about hair and makeup (of all things) along with sharing a few personal details about myself that you may not know.
" What should I wear to the funeral?" This is a question that I have been asked several times by those preparing to pay their final respects to loved ones. My answer is always the same. PERSONALIZE! I challenge inquirers to consider four questions when making their decisions. Who was this person to you? What did they like? What did they enjoy? What did you all enjoy together? My questions are often met with a long silent pause as they are pondered upon.
“Cultural fashion trends and styles play a key role in the way that we present ourselves to the world on a daily basis. Throughout our lives and also in death we are represented by the way that we are dressed.”
Throughout history, cultures from across the globe have held the preparation and dressing of the deceased sacred. Many cultures and religious groups have designated specific items in which their deceased are to be funeralized and buried in. Two groups that have gone as far as to appoint specific groups of individuals with the task of dressing the deceased are the Jews and Muslims. In the Jewish religion this group is known as the Chevra Kadisha and in the Muslim religion this group has many names. In both Jewish and Muslim faiths shrouding (covering or wrapping of the deceased in sacred garments) is considered to be one of the most pure and laudable acts that one can perform because it is an act of favor that cannot be returned by the deceased.
In American culture, the honor of dressing the deceased is most often given to the funeral home that the family/ person making arrangements chooses to work with. Selecting the clothing items for a loved one who has passed away is one of the most intimate and important steps in the process of making funeral arrangements. Many families that I have worked with have found this process to be extremely emotional and at times have had difficulty making these decisions. Understandably, many questions arise leaving many people feeling embarrassed and afraid to ask.
Here are the top five most frequently asked questions:
1. What should I bury my loved one in?
This decision is totally up to the family/ person making arrangements. It is my personal and professional belief that the clothes that someone is buried in should reflect who they were in life. For example, a 90-year-old grandmother would not traditionally be presented wearing bright red lipstick and a halter top unless that was her normal dress. Many families have found it helpful to use a favorite color, dress or suite when making clothing selections. If your loved one had a favorite sports team or organization that they were closely affiliated with, any garments which reflect that are completely appropriate.
Many families also opt to bury deceased loved ones in their work uniform, especially service men and women. When burying a child, I have seen many families use pajamas, sports team attire, and costumes and garments which represent favorite cartoon characters. The options are unlimited. Another helpful hint is to make sure that the colors selected for the garments coordinate with the color of the casket and main floral arrangement.
2. Do I have to buy something new? Do I need to have the items I bring in dry cleaned?
Absolutely not (in most cases)! It is totally up to you whether or not you want to purchase new clothing for your loved one to be buried in. The key is to make sure that whatever items you select fit the deceased. Many decedents have succumbed to illness which has resulted in drastic weight loss or gain leaving the clothes that they own either too big or small. It is important to know that in these situations it may be necessary to purchase new clothing to ensure the best presentation possible. If you do choose to bring in items that are not new it is good practice to ensure that they are clean and dry cleaned if needed.
3. Is it true that the clothes are going to be cut?
Yes, in many instances when dressing the deceased it is common practice to cut the clothing in a straight line up the back. This aids in dressing and also creates a more natural appearance for the deceased while lying in the casket. In situations where clothing is to too tight or loose this also helps to create a better fit when possible. If you do not wish for the garments that you bring in to be cut simply let your funeral director know.
4. Do I need to bring in jewelry, make up, underwear and shoes? Can I have the clothes back that the deceased wore to the funeral home?
Again, this is totally up to you. Most funeral homes keep a supply of undergarments on hand to protect the modesty of the deceased and will always have cosmetics available. If there is a particular shade or brand of lipstick, nail polish, or make up that you want your loved one to wear it would be wise to provide it yourself or inform your funeral director. Jewelry in most cases is not provided by the funeral home. If the decedent comes into the funeral home wearing jewelry it is common practice for it to either remain with the body or be given to the family/ person making arrangements. Many families request that jewelry be placed on the body for viewing but removed and returned prior to burial. Shoes are often placed on the deceased but are not required.
Clothing and ALL personal items such as jewelry, all forms of money, dentures, shoes, etc. brought in with the deceased from the medical examiner, hospital or place of death should by law always be itemized and returned to the next of kin or left with the body of the deceased. Unless the items taken into custody with the deceased pose biological hazards or serve as evidence to a crime they should be available to be returned to the next of kin.
5. Can I choose my own clothes?
YES!!!!!!!!!! I encourage everyone to pre-plan for final arrangements and that includes the way you want to be dressed. When making pre-arrangements I instruct the individuals and families that I work with to get as creative as possible when selecting their garments and informing their loved ones of their where abouts. Many of the people that I have worked with have chosen to beautifully pack their garments and other special items in suitcases and enclose letters addressed to their loved ones with instructions and placing them personally significant locations.
It is my hope that this article helps someone when making final decisions for a loved one. As always I am eager to hear from you. What are your questions? What do you need to know? How can we get this conversation started in our community?
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. George Frankel CEO and co-founder of Eternal Reefs. Eternal Reef marine memorials allow for families who are seeking a unique, hands on and meaningful method of commemorating the lives of their lost loved ones. Eternal Reefs prides themselves on protecting and preserving the marine environment for future generations. For more information about Eternal Reefs please visit www.eternalreefs.com and as always please be sure to like and subscribe to receive notices about new video content on our YouTube Page
We are all in a never-ending cycle of transition called Life. These transitions take on many faces and have both drastic and sometimes unnoticed subconscious effects on our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual lives. Grief, the experience of loss, is the most intense of these experiences. Unfortunately, in our society, we isolate the word “grief” to a sole association with death. The truth is that grief is defined as the emotional response to a loss of ANY kind.
In order to smoothly flow through life, it is vital that we begin to identify grief as an experience that is not limited to the physical and biological death. As human beings we are constantly experiencing growth which in turn means that we are constantly experiencing loss. When experiencing a loss that is not connected to the death of a loved one, we as individuals need to give ourselves permission to grieve. Many times, we are unaware that we are even grieving due to our society’s limited view of death and grief, in combination with our very own ignorance.
In this blog we will explore 3 of the most common grief experiences that are not death related.
Whether romantic or platonic, the truth is that sometimes relationships just don’t work out. Severing meaningful ties to a partner, friend or family member can be a very painful experience. The emotional ups and downs along with the mental back and forth surrounding the details of a separation can be exhausting and draining. Learning to move forward without that relationship in our lives is a challenge. No longer communicating or being to communicate the same with someone with whom we were once close can be as painful as experiencing the grief associated with loosing them to death if not worst.
Most of us spend the majority of our lives perusing and navigating through the career circuit. The average person begins working some kind of job between the ages of 16-18 and does not retire until at least the age of 62. Throughout this time in the work force we spend more time in our places of business than we do with our parents, spouses, children, friends and other loved ones. Our jobs provide us with benefits (if we are lucky) and also provide us with financial means to live the lives that we have designed for ourselves. Loosing or even voluntarily transitioning away from such a large factor of our lives is bound stir up some level of grief.
Social Media Grief
We live in a society that praises riches and looks poorly upon poverty and lack of any kind. Social media has ignited this mind set by allowing us the opportunity to constantly compare ourselves to others. Looking at what is presented as the “glamorous” lives of others in some cases can create a sense dissatisfaction with our own lives. Without proper balance, discipline and perspective we can easily be convinced that we in some way are missing out on the best that life has to offer creating feelings of loss that closely relate to experiencing grief.
Grief is not meant to permanently paralyze us. As crazy as it sounds, grief gives us the tools needed to fully experience and appreciate life. Recognizing that we are grieving is the first step we must take to heal, rebuild/reinvest, and move forward. When we educate ourselves on what grief really is, we free ourselves to learn from and grow through the experience instead of making the temporary experience last a lifetime.
Loss can be experienced whenever we develop an emotional attachment to anything and the experience of loss affects each of us in unique ways. As individuals, the manner in which we choose to grieve cannot be defined or limited to a step-by-step process. According to Recover-From-Grief.com, a wonderful resource for support and information about grief, the stages of grief are as follows:
1. Shock and Denial
2. Pain and Guilt
3. Anger & Bargaining
4. Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
5. The Upward Turn
6. Reconstruction and Working Through
7. Acceptance and Hope
It is believed by most mental health professionals that all of these stages must be experienced in order for one to recover and rebuild after a loss. Please take the time to educate yourself and your family about what grief truly is and know that expressing the feelings associated with your loss is natural and necessary.
Have you experienced a loss that is not grief related? If so how did you heal, recover and move forward with life? I would love to hear from you. To learn more about starting this conversation with your family and receive FREE information, resources and educational materialsplease visit www.thegravewoman.com feel free to comment or email us directly at email@example.com
2/28/2018 0 Comments
Hello Everyone. Today is the final day of Black History Month and I am sure that by now everyone has seen Marvels Black Panther at least once. One of the most powerful scenes in the movie is when King T’Challa expresses to his father that he is not ready to be without him. His father, King T’Chaka then responds by boldly stating “a man who has not prepared his children for his own death has failed as a father”. 17 of the most powerful words that I have ever heard constructed into one sentence. Now there are several ways a man/woman prepares his children for his death but for the purpose of this blog; we will focus solely on the financial, emotional and spiritual responsibility that our community seems to have lost as it pertains to death.
“Baby, you can’t really live until you’re ready to die”.
These words will ring true for the rest of my life. These words were spoken by my Narnie (maternal grandmother) during one of our many telephone conversations. She proudly announced that she had recently gathered all of her paper work and other vital personal information to make them easily accessible for us (her children and grandchildren) in the event of her death. Even as someone who faces death on a daily basis the thought of my Narnie (or anyone else that I love) not being here sends cold chills through my body. After hanging up the phone and reflecting on our discussion I found myself overcome with a sense of calm and peace.
I realized what a gift she had put in place for us. Not only had she taken the time to contemplate and make peace with her mortality; she took things a step further and invested the time and energy to gather all necessary documents related to her finances and personal affairs. She took into consideration the natural grief that we are sure to face upon her transitions. In her own way she put forth the effort to soften deaths painful blow by giving us one less thing to worry about during our time of bereavement. What could be more valuable at such a time than peace of mind?
It wasn't long before the feeling of gratefulness for Narnie’s forethought was overshadowed by a feeling of sadness and concern. There are many people like Narnie who have taken the responsibility of preplanning, prefunding and preparing for their end of life and funeral/burial needs but the ugly truth is that as a whole the majority of the African American community have taken what I refer to as the “back door approach” to death and dying.
Below are 3 things that every black family needs to seriously consider before someone dies.
1. It is the role of the funeral home and funeral service professionals to comfort and provide guidance, products and professional services to those who are grieving and experiencing loss. It is not our job or responsibility to compensate for your lack of preparation. Despite the uncertainty and un-expectancy of death, unless there is an immediate need for the services provided by funeral homes and burial establishments most of us have not realized the value and importance of making pre-need investments. Pre-need refers to prefunding and/or preplanning for funeralization and burial needs. Pre-need boils down taking care of what needs to be handled to arrange a funeral prior to an actual death taking place.
Pre-need is not limited to pre-funding. Pre-funding involves ensuring that funds are available for funeral and burial expenses prior to the death occurring. Simply having a conversation with loved ones that outline your final wishes and expectations is a major step in the pre-planning process. Pre-planning can be achieved by taking the imitative to discuss or dictate the small yet significant details that are important to you or by making your vital information and documentation readily available to those who will be responsible for making your arrangements.
On average, funerals arrangements are made within 48-72 hours of a death occurring. Within this time frame surviving loved ones will need to make decisions regarding the order of service, provide the vital statistic information needed to file a death certificate and gain permits for disposition, and provide the funds to pay for the services of the funeral home. Even if you cannot afford to prefund your funeral DO NOT underestimate the importance of simply having your identification, insurance policies, deeds, will, living will and other vital paperwork in order and readily available at their time of need.
Over the years I have sat in funeral home and cemetery conference rooms with numerous families. I have watched helplessly as they struggled to locate essential documents necessary for funeralization and burial. The amount of time and energy invested into taking this process into consideration before a death occurs will be reflected in the amount of stress you or your family encounters and greatly influence their overall experience when making final arrangements. Examples of great pre-planning steps and conversation starters can be found here 3 Free Ways To Prep Your Loved Ones For Death.
2. Gofundme.com is not an insurance policy. Let me repeat, Gofundme.com is not an insurance policy. Nothing is more heart breaking than receiving an email or Facebook notification from a family member or friend asking for funds to bury their loved one. Though there are many circumstances in which families are totally justified in seeking the help of the internet for various unexpected and tragic deaths; it has become a common practice for families to expect end of life expenses to be taken on by strangers. Many people, particularly in the African American Community, are making the choice of meeting death at the back door as opposed to facing its reality and making the necessary provisions. These provisions can literally create financial life or death for loved ones who are responsible for making final arrangements.
The majority of this problem stems from the fact that we are taught in one way or another to value material possessions and instant gratification more than securing financial stability and security for ourselves and our families. Advertisers specifically target the African American community to use their purchasing power to consume products and services with no real value such as fast food, alcohol, vehicles, clothing /apparel, sports /recreation and entertainment. Our community has turned a blind eye to the importance of making preparation for end of life and death care services or products which secure financial stability for our families in the event of a death. We have yet to realize the benefit and value in preparing for the inevitable.
3. Your employer is not responsible for notifying you or your family about its life insurance benefits. They are simply not required to. It is your responsibility to make sure that your family has all of the information needed to successfully submit a life insurance claim. It is your duty to make sure that your loved ones are aware of and familiar with the process required to receive payment in the event of your death. Another misconception is that because you are employed, you are automatically entitled to take advantage of your employer’s life insurance benefits. Sadly, many expectant “beneficiaries” are rudely awaked upon learning that their loved ones were not covered by their employers plans because they did not “qualify” for some reason or another. This is often discovered when attempting to make funeral arrangements. If you cannot answer the following questions you seriously need to read 4 Steps to Confirming Life Insurance Benefits with Your Employer
We all are on this journey in life with the same goal; to make it "home" in one way or another. Learning to respect one another's views is paramount in expanding our awareness and understanding. Supporting each other during our journey "home" opens the door and makes it easier to be compassionate, loving and accepting of those who are experiencing loss.
2/15/2018 0 Comments
Joél Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is dedicated to eliminating misconceptions about post-life preparation while stimulating an open, honest and straight forward discussion about death. You can submit your comments, questions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our contact page.