Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Just Conversation - How Do We Move On After Death?

It never fails to amaze me how that when I travel it seems I always come in contact with someone who asks what I do and they proceed to speak of a personal loss they have experienced. Maybe subconsciously I am seeking out to speak with those who are grieving or have some form of a funeral or cremation experience that has changed their life and views on death forever. Maybe these meetings are just chance, but I don’t believe so?

I have been vacationing with my family at Myrtle Beach, SC. And have spent a great deal of time on the Beach as well as in pools and hot tubs, I know it sounds rough and well it’s been nice. Due to my work schedule I don’t get to spend the quality time with my wife and two daughters that I would like to, but this trip has allowed me to really spend time with them it has been real nice.

Like I said, when meeting people, the conversation invariably always turns to “so what is your occupation”? After I explain, they always have a story of some type which I really enjoy listening to.

See I view myself as student of funeral and cremation service and learning from others experiences especially the consumer is of great value. I can use these actual experiences in ways that others may be helped.

Well, I have had several conversations from personal experiences with funeral homes, crematories and general discussion regarding personal loss. The general thread of theme of conversation this trip has been how do we memorialize our loved one in a way that it seems they are not forgotten and how do we “move-on” when our friends and family says we should move on after the death of a loved one?

First it’s easy for someone to tell someone else to move on when loss may not directly affect their lives.

I like to share this explanation that a friend of mine (Dr. Gary Patton) once shared with me and I feel it is the best analogy between emotional and physical grief. He stated that when someone experiences the loss of a limb via amputation there is a definite visible physical change that takes place but there is also a psychological and emotional change that takes place. After the amputation of a limb, the amputee states that they have phantom pain or feelings in a limb that is no longer attached to the human body. How is this possible? Do we simply tell the amputee who lost a limb(s) to simply pick up the pieces and “move-on”? I think not that would be considered ruthless, cold and callused.

So when we lose a spouse, sibling or friend there are the same real and emotional pains as well as phantom pains that one experiences. Maybe the loss of a spouse who was married for any number of years, maybe the loss of a child, whoever the loss is, how does one just “move-on” and where do people have the right to tell people to simply “move-on”?

The person that was thrust into our lives and we shared experiences, memories, etc. and they are now gone, how do we just quit doing what we one did, how do we simply act as if nothing has happened, and in some instances act as if they never existed? The answer is WE DON’T…

You don’t set the same table for two individuals for years to one day only set it for one and it not feel odd. You see, we are creatures of habit and in habit we experience a certain amount of comfort or security. So the loss of a loved one is not something we get-over or move-on from. We simply work through those phantom pains and we may continue to feel those pains for weeks, months, or years.

During my years working in a funeral home as a funeral director and caring for families, there was a certain minister that on ever funeral he proceeded over, he always told the family “time will be your best friend”. It took me a while to understand what he was saying. What he meant was that time does heal all wounds but although the wound are healed there are will be a scar from the wound…

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