Funeral Expense

19 Feb

Dear LetterBalm: Over the years, I have had to bear the weight of so many deaths among my extended family and circle of friends. I’ve buried both parents, my beloved brother, my child who died young, many nieces and nephews and several friends I had known since grammar school. I can’t do it; it takes too much out of me. I don’t want to be insensitive, but I just can’t go to wakes and funerals anymore. How can I handle this? The last thing I want to do is add to someone’s burden of grief.

–All Cried Out

Grief is an individual experience; no one will judge you if you choose to mourn privately. You don’t have to be reluctant to tell how and why you feel the way you do. Ms. L.B. believes the key to being sensitive at an emotionally fraught time like this is the tone you convey and your willingness to help the grieving parties. Do send flowers and a heartfelt note (not a sympathy card) and, if you know the deceased had a connection to a cause or charity, send a donation in his or her name. Depending on your relationship with the individual, you might volunteer kindnesses to help the family. You can bring food over, send food to the house, offer to chauffeur or babysit or hire a housecleaning service. Down the road, you might keep a surviving partner in your social circle because they can feel nobody pays attention anymore. Here’s what you might say upon first hearing the unhappy news:

Oh, family member/friend, I am so sorry to hear this terrible news, and I appreciate how heartbreaking this is for you. Please understand when I tell you that I won’t be attending the wake and funeral because the pain of loss has become too much for me. But you know how deeply I’m thinking of you all and how much I wish this was a happier time. I will miss him/her very much – he/she was a big part of my life, and I know that was true for many.

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