The world we live in often champions martyrdom. If you are a natural leader or caregiver, you might feel like you are never doing enough. When someone close to you passes away, you may feel obliged to take on everything: financial responsibilities, planning of the funeral arrangements, childcare, work — as well as being a listening ear for other grieving loved ones.
Taking on Too Much Can Be Bad for Your Health
Taking on everything is not only unrealistic, but could also be harmful for your mental and physical wellness. When grieving, your ability to take care of everyday tasks may be diminished, and your memory may be faulty as well. There are physical effects of bereavement that also contribute to this, such as loss of appetite, insomnia and an increase in general aches and pains. Throwing yourself into work, school, or funeral planning may feel like a good outlet, but it's important to delegate to avoid becoming too overwhelmed.
There are many ways this could play out. General burnout can lead to a variety of dangerous scenarios, such as carelessness, or emotional outbursts when driving.
Not giving yourself enough space to express emotions could mean they come out in public. At times, you'll feel like a superhero. Feeling there is no end to your resilience, you might take on extra emotional labor. However, there will inevitably be a day that marks the end of your superhuman strength. It's more manageable over time to slow down, delegate, and take each day as a new challenge.
Death Duties Are Important
Immediately after a death, the next of kin has a lot to do. Funeral planning is often rushed, stressful, and confusing — unless there was a funeral plan in place prior to the death.
The duties must be prioritized in order for your loved one to have a final send-off that does them justice. The communal mourning process is also important for survivors and those who are left to grieve. Though these duties are critical, you don't have to take everything on yourself.
Many people put endless time, energy, and money into designing the perfect funeral service, only to be disappointed. Ultimately, no matter how perfect the service is, your loved one will still be gone. For a grieving person who has depleted energy and concentration, the end of the funeral service may mean suddenly all there is to do is sit with grief. It's a tough adjustment.
Who Can You Trust?
When it comes to planning the funeral of someone you were very close to, you may not feel like anyone else will be able to make the best decisions. You want to do right by your deceased loved one, but it's important not to let these thoughts burden you more than is necessary.
There are loads of responsibilities that you need to take care of. These duties can include any of the following, and more.
- Preparing a list of individuals who knew the deceased, and notifying them
- Locating the deceased's final will and testament
- Arranging for childcare, if the deceased has left behind young children
- Writing the obituary
- Determining which newspapers should publish the obituary
- Deciding between burial and cremation
- Finding a cemetery lot location
- Choosing caskets or urns
- Selecting the eulogist for the funeral service
- Designing the funeral program
- Selecting musicians and songs for the service
- Picking floral arrangements
- Making legal arrangements for probate
Still raw from the loss, you need to determine which of these tasks must be done by you directly, and which of them can be handed off to a trusted loved one or funeral service professional.
Funeral Directors Are a Valuable Resource
Depending on the funds available for the funeral, you may decide to hire a funeral director. Though funeral directors can't make all the decisions for you, they can execute your wishes using years of expertise. It's an efficient and reliable way of ensuring the funeral is planned according to your and your loved one's wishes.
When you hire a funeral director, they will guide you through the decision-making process for everything related to funerals. From casket shopping, to decisions about the funeral program and eulogy, to musical selections, and considerations for the visitation, they can offer guidance through a confusing time. Provide your funeral director with detailed instructions, and they will ensure your vision is carried out.
Trusted Family and Friends Can and Will Help You
Although you probably can't offload the entire planning of the funeral service on friends or family, they can do a lot of the legwork for you as you make more important decisions. Ask folks who knew the deceased and wish to help, or your own loved ones who wish to assist you through this time.
Notifying Loved Ones
Have a friend construct the list of folks to contact, then look it over and add any missing names. Delegate the actual task of notifying people of the death. Not only is this a time-consuming job that can be done by any tactful person, it's also very unpleasant to relive the moment you first discovered your loved one had died.
Writing and Publishing the Obituary
Have a family member write the first draft of the obituary. Once you have reviewed and edited it, instruct them to publish the story online and then in the newspapers related to the places the deceased person lived.
If your funeral provider is not already handling floral arrangements, this is another job to delegate. Give specific instructions for flower types, if there are any, and let someone you trust handle it.
If you are uncomfortable tasking loved ones with the actual funeral service arrangements, you can delegate daily responsibilities to them instead. This will free up your time, so you can focus on the death arrangements. Ask family or friends to help with grocery shopping, meal preparation, childcare, pet care, transportation, and housework.
Your Loved Ones Want to Help Out
The grief you experience when you suffer the loss of a loved one takes a toll on you, both physically and emotionally. You can't expect yourself to run at full capacity. Instead of shouldering the burden of funeral arrangements alone, you must call on the people who know and care about you. Your loved ones likely want to support you, but have no idea how. Ask for help with practical matters when you need it. They will be there for you as you navigate the funeral service, and beyond.