Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Elephant in the Room

I am an experienced funeral practitioner, and to this day, even though I do not mean to, and I really should not, I still hesitate, when I see a friend or family member, who has recently lost a loved one. With all of the people I serve on a daily basis, one would think, I would have moved beyond that momentary awkwardness, when coming face to face, with a grieving friend.

Why do we experience awkwardness, avoid or even ignore our grieving friends? Is it because we fear inflicting further pain? Perhaps we fear our inability to console. Is it that we feel tongue-tied? Could it be we just do not know what to say? Maybe we fear making our friend cry. Whatever the reasons, we need to understand, that our awkward reactions, do not help our grieving friends. Indeed, these reactions have the opposite effect on them. Our failure to recognize and respond to our grief stricken friends actually inflicts additional pain on them. Alas, try as I might, overcoming this brief moment of hesitation, remains difficult for me, almost impossible actually, and I imagine it does for you too.

I have learned over the years that the most important thing I can do for a friend who mourns the loss of their loved one, is simply act normally. Understanding that this is impossible, I have moved beyond my weakness to do so, and have chanced upon the best alternative. “Acknowledge the elephant in the room.”

Mourners want and need most of all, to talk about their loss. They need to work through what has happened to them. Talking with someone who knows them and will not judge them, allows them to accept that death has happened, to realize that there is a new reality in which they must function, and redirects them to work out their road to recovery.

Do not be alarmed. This does not mean that every grieving acquaintance you have, will want to carry on a detailed conversation with you, about his or her loss. A simple acknowledgement is more than sufficient. “I was sorry to hear about your dad,” offers an acquaintance comfort. Those same words, spoken to a dear friend, offer an appropriate opportunity for a healing conversation.

As the year closes, and we look forward to 2014, I would suggest that you add this resolution to your list.
“Recognize the elephant in the room.”

If you will, you and your grief stricken friends will benefit from its practice. You will also find that your discomfort is greatly lessened around the bereaved.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account @PushnUpDaisies, visit my website www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Suicide Victims


Suicide is tragic and it spikes around the holidays each year.  As a funeral director, I see families suffering suicide loss year after year.  Not only are they suffering the loss of their loved one, they are suffering an internal strife of blame and guilt. 

 The holiday season is a time full of tradition and family heritage.  Depressed individuals generally complain of feeling empty inside and alone.  With the rich focus on belonging and love at this time of year, those suffering depression may not be able to endure the activities, traditions and heritage surrounding them.  The juxtaposition of their feelings or perceptions, to the merry holiday festivities, may indeed lead them to end their life.  To endure such an extreme loss at this time of year is particularly harrowing.

Nearly 750,000 individuals commit suicide yearly (Worden, 2009).  Statistics show that those who have suffered a suicidal loss may be at risk of suicide themselves.  If you have thoughts of suicide, or if you are contemplating such an action, immediately seek intervention.  Do not hint or allude to your intentions or difficulties.  Be specific and immediately reach out to a medical or suicide intervention facility.  Dial 911, tell them you need help, get yourself to the emergency room, and allow someone to intervene for you.  Remember, although you might not love yourself, you are loved by others.  Even though you cannot recognize it now, you have value, and there will be those who will sorely mourn your loss.  

Depression can be a deadly condition, but it is also preventable.  The goal in crime-prevention is to separate the criminal from the victim, before a heinous crime is committed.  In suicide, the victim and the perpetrator are the same person.  Physically, it is impossible to separate them.  Psychological and medical interventions are very effective anti-crime tools for thwarting suicide.  If an alert individual is able to identify a suicidal person, or if a suicidal person will identify him or herself and seek help, a life may be saved, a crime may be prevented, and a family may remain whole.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author, and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my websitewww.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Grief Brief #20 - Sadness

SADNESS is the most common feeling experienced during bereavement.  Persons who block sadness with excessive activity, find that their sadness surfaces once they are exhausted. 

Exhaustion renders one less able to overcome the intensity of sadness. 


My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information. 

Road to Recovery

When a family experiences a death, almost every member of the household mourns, including the family dog. There are positive and proven ways that help one cope and recover from the loneliness and depression experienced with the death of a loved one. It is important to keep in mind however, that not everyone mourns nor recovers in the exact same way.

Exercise is good for the heart, body and soul. A 20 to 40 minute aerobic activity results in improvement in the survivor’s state of mind. A vigorous pumping heart decreases anxiety, lifts the mood and creates a positive experience that persists for several hours. Psychological benefits associated with exercise are a welcome bonus for the bereaved. They are comparable to the gains found with standard forms of psychotherapy.

Religion offers hope for the future and forgiveness for the past. It also offers likeminded support and understanding. It can be a source for counseling and re-socialization, a gateway back to recovery.

Family and friends can be a great resource for recovery. Traveling to visit loved ones in other areas or having them visit the survivor, offers companionship that is familiar, uplifting and relative to their life’s experiences.

Hobbies occupy the mind and hands. They engage our brains and keep them in good health. Hobbies create a sense of accomplishment. They propel us toward a healthier and happier recovery.

Psychotherapy is sometimes warranted. Counseling can help a survivor identify habits and encourage positive growth. It can yield a recovery plan that the survivor is unable to identify, implement and accomplish on his or her own.

A support group is a scheduled gathering of people with common experiences and concerns. It provides emotional and moral support, as well as new perspectives on life, increased understanding of grief, and close personal ties.

Traditions are also a wonderful tool for grief recovery. Observing traditions that were once enjoyed with the deceased, helps up accept that they are gone from us physically, yet with us still, through the activities and love we shared together. Such activities, now traditions, will aid your family by anchoring them securely to their heritage. Observing traditions stabilizes a family through loss, expansion and changing environments.

Animal companionship typically results in fewer migraines and less persistent fears. Fewer phobias, lower levels of panic, and less drug and alcohol intake are very positive side effects associated with our furry friends. The love and acceptance of a pet, helps us to combat depression and isolation. If you have a family pet, be mindful of their needs. Taking Fido out for a brisk walk will provide both of you healthier opportunities for exercise, socialization and companionship.

People have a strong need for communication and companionship. Through support groups, church, friends and family we are able to recall, reclaim and rekindle our most cherished memories. Moreover, through these relationships and activities, we are able to begin our recovery.

As Christmas is upon us, it is even more important that we offer our companionship to those we know who have lost a loved one this past year. Important dates are the most difficult to endure when we are bereaved. If you can find it within your heart, I would encourage you to take a moment to visit or call someone you know who is facing the holidays without the companionship of their loved one. Reflect for a moment the sadness you would feel in their situation. Be thankful for your cheer and share a moment of life with someone who has suffered the sorrows of death.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/and Twitter account @PushnUpDaisies, visit my websitewww.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.

Grief Brief #19 - Grief Work

Grief is a cognitive process involving confrontation with and restructuring of thoughts about the deceased, the loss experience, and the changed world within which the bereaved must now live. (Stroebe, 1992)

Since mourning is a process, rather than a state of mind, the above statement implies that we must work to overcome the devastation of loss. This activity is known as grief work.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account @PushnUpDaisies, visit my website www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Co-Mingling

Ground burial has long been the traditional choice for interment in America. In recent years however, cremation has become a viable choice, among the adventurous baby boomers. As they prepare for their final expenses, many questions arise. One question, in particular, is asked more often than any other, “Can my pet be cremated with me?”

It is illegal to co-mingle human cremains. In other words, two humans, may not be cremated in the same chamber, at the same time. Likewise, it is illegal, to cremate an animal, where human beings are cremated. Plainly speaking, your pet may not be cremated, at the same crematorium, where you may be cremated.

As a licensed funeral director, I often witness family members slipping mementos into a loved one’s casket, immediately before it is closed. In fact, I recently observed a very young nephew, slip a little wooden box, into his Uncle’s casket. The box had a doggy paw engraved upon it, next to the name, “Love.” It was a very touching moment, and caused me to think seriously about my own pet’s living situation, when my time comes to meet my maker.

As with interment, inurnment (the process of placing cremains in an urn), offers unique choices, to achieve your final wishes. One might choose an appropriate location where their cremains, and the cremains of their pet, might be sprinkled together. An appropriate choice might be the old oak tree, at his or her family home place. If one has chosen to have their cremains buried, a double cremation vault might be an appropriate selection. A double cremation vault encases two urns of cremains. One urn might encase the master’s cremains, the other urn might encase the pet’s cremains.

If you find yourself in this unique situation, you will need to have the assistance of a very special someone to accomplish your final wishes. It may just turn out, that your very young nephew, surprisingly steps forward to accomplish this final act of “Love” for you and your pet.

My best advice: “Be kind to animals, and to your very young nephews. Sometimes even the tiniest humans turn out to be our biggest champions.”

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account @PushnUpDaisies, visit my website www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Grief Brief #18 - Tasks of Mourning

TASKS OF MOURNING (Worden)

1. Accepting the reality of loss
2. Process the pain of loss
3. Adjust to a world without the deceased
a) internally
b) externally
c) spiritually
4. Find an enduring connection with the deceased in your new life without them.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author, and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my websitewww.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Death Comes in 3's


As a girl, I remember hearing my mother and grandmother say, “Death comes in threes.”  I found this to be a terrifying statement.  As a funeral director, I now understand how this old saying, coincides with the risk of death multiplicity within families or friendship groups.
Bereavement is a state of sorrow over the death of a loved one.  When we are bereaved, we suffer a host of ailments ranging from appetite disturbances and sadness, to migraines and depression.  Bereavement can become complicated and extended for many survivors.  Generally, survivors will feel desolate or alone for a period of time.  Navigating back to a healthy state of living is essential for the survivor.  If this is not accomplished, difficulties, illnesses and even death may follow.

It is an interesting phenomenon that one person’s death can cause another person’s death.  As a funeral director, I have witnessed this phenomenon firsthand.  I have seen spouses die within hours of each other, siblings pass at the funerals of their brothers or sisters and sweethearts commit suicide after learning their beloved has done so. 
These deaths caused by other deaths are not the norm; however, they happen.  The elderly and the infirmed tend to be at risk due to the incredible levels of stress and sorrow induced by loss.  The mentally ill or those with mental retardation may find themselves at an even greater risk.  One’s risk is relative to their level of dependency and attachment on the deceased.  Their physical and mental health may also contribute to their risk factor.  If one is aware that they, or someone they know, fall into these categories, seeking support and medical intervention early on, might be wise.

There are also moments in time, which place the survivor at increased risk.  The moment of death notification, if unexpected, can be very stressful.  If you are notifying a family or friend of a loved one’s death, evaluate the significance of their attachment and any possible health risks.  If someone has a heart condition, or some other significant health issue, you might take precautionary measures as recommended by their physician before proceeding.
The initial trip to the funeral home can also be a very stressful moment.  Not only might the survivor be highly stressed over the financial weight of the funeral, they may not be prepared to speak so bluntly about their loss.  They may be poorly prepared for the arrangement conference and feel uneasy making legal decisions at such a vulnerable time.  Unfortunately, each consecutive trip to the funeral home generally increases the level of stress on the survivor.  Funeral week is filled with emotional turmoil, insecurities, financial hardship and even familial bickering.  All of these issues increase stress on one’s physical and mental wellness. 

Does death come in threes?  It’s possible, but now we know how to evaluate risk factors.  With this knowledge, the statement made by my mother and grandmother, is not nearly so frightening.  As an adult, I can evaluate attachment levels and health discrepancies.  I am able to deliver such tragic news to my family members with greater understanding of risk factors, and can incorporate relevant efforts to preserve the lives of those I love so dearly.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author, and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

 Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my websitewww.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.

Grief Brief #17 - Phases of Mourning


Phases of Mourning (Parkes)

1.        Period of numbness  
2.        Yearning      

3.        Disorganization & despair          
4.        Reorganized behavior 

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.

Thanksgiving Loss


I had a dear friend die this past year.  Although he passed away in a different state, I go to his social media page and leave him messages every now and then.  I miss him so terribly, because he was an amazing human being.  His heart was true and good, and he was honest with his fellow man and with himself.  He was a friend to my family, and when you met him, you loved him, because of his goodness.  My friend died smack dab in the middle of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  How like him, he died in the season of family tradition and giving, two things he revered.
It would be easy to be miserable this year, thinking of how much we miss our dear friend, but he would not want that.  Instead, we will remember all of the good that he contributed during his short life.  We will be thankful for the time we had with him, the growth he inspired in us, his kindness, his generosity and for his passion for truth. 

 I read his obituary today, for the first time.  It spoke volumes about my friend.  It mentioned his accomplishments, which were many; and then, there was a paragraph that told who he was.  “Preston always stood up for correct principals.  He was a scriptorian, loved music, upheld the Constitution, big on self-sufficiency and was courageous and undaunted.” (Richfield Reaper, December 2012) I am thankful for so many things, and although I may shed a tear that he is gone, I will forever remain grateful for the influence of my dear friend, and the example he set for me. 

 The holidays can be a very difficult time for someone who has lost a loved one, especially if this is his or her first holiday season since the loss.  Even though we try to focus on how much better our lives are for having had our loved one, we miss them so terribly, that it is difficult to experience the cheer of the season.

If you know someone suffering through his or her first holiday season after loss, please be mindful of him or her.  This is a particularly difficult time and they may feel lonely and isolated.  Take a moment to remember with them, the wonderful moments of life they shared with their loved one.  Participate in family traditions and create new ones that honor their deceased.  Your blessings will be great, and you will have helped someone through a time, when your good acts of kindness were priceless.
That is what my friend Preston would have done. 

 My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 
Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Grief Brief #16 - Mourning = Adapting

Grief is one’s experiences after loss.  Mourning is the process of adapting to that loss. 

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.
 

Suicide Survivors


Suicide is a very complex tragedy for family and friends of the deceased.  When a loved one intentionally kills him or herself, confusion and intense guilt are immediately present among the survivors.  Interestingly enough, in cases of suicide, mere acquaintances may also identify with these feelings.  Survivors will second-guess themselves, questioning why they did not see the signs.  They will ponder and try to recall little nuances.  They will blame themselves, for not identifying, and acting upon what now seems as obvious attempts from the deceased, to reach out for help.  

Survivors will try to discover a reason for the suicide.  Sometimes the reasons are obvious.  The deceased may have alluded to their intentions, they may have displayed classic signs of pre-suicidal behaviors, or they may have suffered something tragic that pushed them beyond their coping abilities.  In such circumstances, survivors may have tried to intervene without success.  Failure to stave off the suicide may cause feelings of inadequacy.  

Sometimes the reasons for suicide are not obvious.  If survivors did not recognize suicidal signs, or try to intervene, the suicide may bring on overwhelming guilt, fear, or self-loathing.  This is a dangerous time for survivors.  Often, they are suffering similar issues, and additional suicides are a great risk.  In search of answers, survivors will begin to speculate; they will begin to play the blame game.  Whether blame is internalized, or directed against others, it can be deadly.  

Identifying the clinical reasons for suicide can be very helpful.  It offers survivors an identifiable cause for the tragedy.  If pathological illness is identified, others may be more readily accepting of intervention.  The goal in identifying the reasons for suicide, is to diminish intense unwarranted guilt, extreme hopelessness, and most importantly, prevent additional suicides among the survivors.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author, and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my websitewww.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Grief Brief #15 - Poor & Empty

When you suffer from grief, the world looks poor and empty. When suffering from depression, the world feels poor and empty.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Transformation

The loss of a parent can be very devastating.  At such a time, we realize so many things.  We understand that we no longer have our parent to call for help or advice.  At the same time, we realize that we are now the eldest person in our lineage.  We are now the person that others rely on for advice, experience, acceptance, and love.  We have suddenly become the custodian of our legacy.  We accept the responsibilities of keeping our family together, keeping them safe, and moving them toward a better life.  The torch of responsibility passes from one generation to the next as the breath of life and soul exists our parent’s body.

Earlier today, I witnessed the passing of the torch in my cousin’s family.  Today was her mother’s funeral.  My cousin, ever strong, spoke at her mother’s funeral as she did at her father’s just three years earlier.  As my cousin spoke of the love and lessons her mother had taught her, I could hear her breath quiver.  I marveled at her strength.  I remembered our earlier years as children when we would play at my great grandmother’s home.  My cousin would lead our small band of cousins as we struggled to play in harmony together.  As I sat in the congregation, my eyes scanned those attending.  I noticed that most of us, our little play group of cousins, were in attendance.  As my cousin spoke, I could see each of our playgroup empathize with her excruciating experience.
My cousin is so strong.  She has been tempered at her Makers hand.  She has suffered extreme trials and burdens and she has learned great lessons.  They have made her the amazing woman that she is today.  I have no doubt that my cousin will exercise great leadership with her family.  They are fortunate to have her wisdom, her strength, and her unconditional love to draw upon in times of weakness, self-doubt, or need.   

My cousin loved her mother.  She respected and appreciated her mother.  As she spoke, I saw a unique and marvelous transformation.  Today, my cousin accepted the passing of her mother’s torch and became the custodian for her family group.  She now carries the responsibility for her lineage’s heritage.  She will do a fine job, of that I am sure.  Through the trials of her life, she has suffered extreme difficulties and extreme joys.  Her experiences have well prepared her for this new phase of life.  She will have moments of weakness, self-doubt, anger, and despair.  They will be out weighted by the joy that comes from service and sacrifice for others. 
My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author, and freelance writer.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.

Grief Brief #14 - Mistaken Grief

Grief is sometimes mistaken for depression. While it is true that in both circumstances sleep disturbance, changes in appetite and extreme sadness are experienced, the common loss of self-esteem found in depression is absent in grief.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 
Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

A Daughter's Sacrifice

This story is about a brave soul who is fearless and committed to service. She is a courageous woman of strength, loyalty, and sacrifice. She lives in a very small town where everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows your business.

She is a daughter in a rather large family. Both of her parents are in the same nursing home together. They share a great love for each other and their daughter respects that. She gets up every morning and goes to the nursing home to care for her parents. She washes them, she feeds them, she takes them for outings, and most of all, she loves them. At the end of the day, when all is quiet, my friend carries home her parent’s laundry. She painstakingly washes their laundry, and returns to the nursing home the next day, with fresh linens and undies for her dear mom and dad. From the depth of her soul, she is committed to her parents. To their dying day, she sacrifices and cares for their every need. The interesting part of this story though, is yet to be told. My dear friend lives in a town where her siblings also live.

On any given day, I can drop by the nursing home, and there will be my dear friend, caring for her sweet parents. Sadly, she has always been alone in her commitment. One wonders why one child over the others is committed beyond reproach.

Her father passed last year and my dear friend took care of every detail for his service. She made arrangements for her dear mother to attend, and she ensured the comfort of all friends and family attending. I do not think until that time, I had realized the depth of her commitment, her love and her sacrifice on behalf of her darling parents.

I read a message today on facebook. Paraphrasing it said, “Recovery from the loss of a loved one is like learning how to dance with a limp.” This is so true. Recovery from the loss of someone we love so dearly, is similar to the recovery of a broken leg. Although the bone mends itself, it is never as it was before. If may function well enough to walk briskly, but dancing exposes the injury.

My girlfriend’s siblings dance through life without a thought or sacrifice for the parents. Nevertheless, my girlfriend sacrifices her days, and even her nights, for her parents. She never dances. She has neither the time nor the energy to dance. She shields her parents from the limp in her heart, which is the realization of their mortality. Even in the final hours of her father’s life, she shielded him from the fear and sadness that weighs so heavily upon her soul.

Her mother lives on. My friend is by her side day in and day out. She will continue to be there, until the day, her mother’s soul leaves this earth, and joins her husband, in the presence of their beloved maker. I am sure they will enjoy a reunion of great joy and love. I think they might even enjoy a dance together. I wonder, might my friend share a dance with her husband, that same day? A dance to honor her sacrifice and to rejoice at the return of her freedom.

My friend is a devoted daughter. When the day comes that she can dance, I know it will be with a severe, yet well-earned limp.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips related to understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account @PushnUpDaisies, visit my website www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.
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Friday, November 1, 2013

Grief Brief #13 - Tears

It has been speculated that tears may have unique healing potential. The chemical imbalances caused by stress may be leveled out by the removal of toxic substances through tears.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cause of Death Pending

At times, a death certificate may be issued with the cause of death listed as pending. This generally happens when an investigation is taking place and the cause of death is in question. Death certificates are necessary for legal, financial and real estate purposes. Most applications do not require cause of death, the exception to this rule is of course insurance. If your insurance policy has an accidental death rider, you will want to file for an amended death certificate after cause of death has been determined.

Filing for an amended death certificate is easily accomplished. In most cases, you need only contact your local registrar, fill out the necessary forms, pay the required fees, and amended death certificates will be issued.

The difficulties associated with “cause of death pending” are the unresolved questions of the family. Parents, children, and spouses find it difficult to understand and recover when the cause of death is pending. Acceptance is the last stage of Dr. Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief. For most people, the death of a loved one is the ultimate trauma experienced in life. If the cause of death is pending, the family may find it difficult to begin the work of acceptance. If acceptance is unobtainable, complicated grief may become a reality. Complicated grief is the prolonged suffering of a survivor. Complicated grief may affect the functionality of the survivor.

Generally, the cause of death will be revised once the investigation has been completed. There are however certain circumstances where cause of death may not be determinable. In such a case, family and close friends may find it very difficult to recover. If you are suffering this type of loss, you may find it helpful to join a support group or to seek out a counselor. Your funeral director should be able to help you find various organizations that focus on helping the bereaved through such extreme circumstances. Your road to recovery may be slow and arduous. You may think there is no hope. You may find yourself filled with despair. My dear friend, do not allow yourself to continue on without intervention. There are people and organizations willing and waiting to help you. Do not do this alone. It is too difficult. Allow those around you who love and care for you, to lend a helping hand. If you do so, you will realize that there is hope and love abounding. Family and friends love and care for you. Allow them the opportunity to help.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account @PushnUpDaisies, visit my website www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grief Brief #12 - Hyperactivity

Often times, recently bereaved survivors will have a period of restless hyperactivity. This is normal and should subside over time.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

4 Phases of Mourning

I often hear people refer to a teenager’s poor behavior as a phase. Somehow, this interpretation or usage of the word lessens its true application. A phase as described in the dictionary is a process of change or development. This true meaning of “phase” is exactly what we are describing in the Phases of Mourning. Each phase as it is accomplished brings the survivor back to a balance in life. It allows joy, peace, and tranquility to return. It reestablishes harmony and allows functionality to exist within the survivor’s life.

Mourning is divided into four phases.

Phase 1
- A period of numbness. Numbness is the deprivation of physical or emotional sensations. The numbness experienced by most survivors, helps them to disregard that death has occurred. This short period of numbness allows them to function in a manner close to their normal level of productivity. This is particularly noteworthy, as there are very important decisions to make at this time.

Phase 2 - A period of yearning. The survivor yearns for the return of the deceased and does not yet comprehend the permanence of this new reality. Anger is generally experienced during this phase. Anger may be directed at the deceased for not being there to help out, or for inflicting loneliness and pain upon the survivor. Anger may also be directed at others for not doing something to prevent the death of the deceased. It may also be projected upon others or self, for non-factually based perceptions, affecting the cause of death. Anger is a powerful and motivating emotion. It is not always factually based.

Phase 3 - A time of disorganization and despair. The survivor is learning that things are not the same. They find it difficult to function as they once did. Each experience that was once a cooperative effort is now their sole responsibility. This is the most crucial phase of the experience to overcome. If a survivor is unable to move beyond this phase, they are in danger of entering severe depression and recovery may become extremely complicated.

Phase 4 - A reorganization of behavior. In this phase of mourning, we see the survivor change all aspects of their existence. They pull their lives together and begin to function at their normal capacity, albeit alone.

Although life has forever changed, if a survivor passes through each of these phases successfully, grief recovery will be clinically completed. They should be able to satisfactorily accomplish their daily activities and eventually participate in social activities with greater ease.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account @PushnUpDaisies, visit my website www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Grief Brief #11 - Sighing

Sighing is a normal stress reducer and is normal among the recently bereaved. It correlates closely with the feeling of breathlessness.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author, and freelance writer. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account @PushnUpDaisies, visit my website www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.

Sweet D

I visited with a woman today who suffers a terminal illness. The ravages of her illness are painful and will soon take her life from her. This weighs heavy on her mind, not for herself, but for those she loves.

Sweet D has completely accepted her impending demise, but worries immensely about its effect on her children and grandchildren. She tries to talk to them about what is going to happen, but they refuse to hear it. She asked me if I would help them through it, once she dies. I answered, “Of course I would.” Her heart is broken. She wants to prepare her family for her death. She does not understand why they will not face the reality of her future.

Human nature is a crazy thing. Each of us has different strengths and weaknesses. As I spoke with Sweet D, I told her that her children and grandchildren love her deeply. In fact, the depth of their love is what causes them to deny the reality that she is dying. Denial creates a barrier of protection against the severe pain inflicted through loss and death. Her family will wait until she dies to consider that there will be a time when she no longer lives next door.

Sadly, Sweet D feels alone, abandoned and unloved. The denial of her family to accept her impending death creates a barrier between them. She is left alone to contemplate what she might experience after her life passes. She is left alone to plan her funeral. She is left alone in moments of fear, trial, and weakness. She is left alone to mourn the loss of her life, and any future experiences with her children and grandchildren. Sweet D’s family has not yet realized that they are not just losing her; she is losing them. Her loss is infinitely more devastating than their loss. They are losing one family member. She is losing every family member.

If someone you love has received a short-term diagnosis, denial may be your close friend. This is a natural reaction to devastating news. It is important however, to realize that the person dying may need you to help them through the experience and fear of knowing that death is at their doorstep. Their knowledge that they will soon die, affects them severely. They may be happy and then sad, they may be fearful and then fearless. Their emotions and fears may be all over the rector scale. The advance knowledge of death’s closeness may bring about personality and philosophical changes. If possible, put your fear and denial aside. Reach out to your loved one and be there for them. Open your heart and comfort them through the experience of dying. Although the experience may be excruciatingly painful for you, once they pass, you alone will have comfort through the precious moments you spent together. Most likely, you will find the experience to be life changing and spiritually enlightening. Many of us fear the experience of death. How sweet it would be for the dying, in their last months of life, to have the strength and love of a loved one to draw upon.

Dying alone is tragic, especially when those you love stand beside you.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author, and freelance writer. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account @PushnUpDaisies, visit my website www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Grief Brief #10 - Searching

Searching and calling out for the decedent is not unusual behavior. Over time, it should subside.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Grandmother Confiscates Cellphones

Today I visited with a dear woman that I met about 3 months ago. My visits with her on both occasions were to discuss her funeral arrangements. My first visit with her took place in her hospital room. It was a very uncomfortable day for her and I left the hospital praying that her doctors would be able to discover the cause of her ailments and offer her some relief. She was a sweet woman and even though she was in severe pain, she was friendly and concerned with my comfort.

Today, as I visited her at her home, she was much more comfortable than before. Her landscape was cheerful and expressed her personality through brightly colored blossoms. There was a peaceful arbor spreading shade over a sweet table with seating for two. Other flowering bushes offered privacy and shared their pleasing fragrance with anyone willing to take a moment to enjoy the pleasant bounty of spring.

Before discussing the business of the day, we spoke of her past few months. She told me about her illness and her plans for her future. We discussed her recent activities with her children and grandchildren. Recently she held a slumber night with her 15 grandchildren. She chose a small space and restricted each child from all electronic devices to ensure interaction and intimacy. Board games and waffles were abundant; TV’s, cell phones and I-pads were non-existent. Each of her grandchildren began the evening with complaints of impending boredom. Each of her grandchildren closed the event with a new appreciation of love and precious memories created with their grandmother.

I know that this activity was difficult and painful for her to host. Her health is fragile and she suffers extreme pain. She understands what is coming though, and she is systematically preparing her loved ones for her passing. She is actively creating memories for each of them, so that once she dies; they will have a treasured moment with her to call their own.

In my own life, I often reflect back to experiences with my grandmother. She also took time to create moments that taught her descendants strength and brought them peace. As a grandmother myself, I compare my actions against those of my grandmother. I try to live up to her generosity, her kindness, and her love for her grandchildren. I try to create memories with my grandchildren that will one day help them surmount the difficulties, trials and weaknesses that plague the human race.

This woman’s family is blessed with her wisdom and her courage to create peace, love, and confidence for them in her last few months of life. She is a strong and brilliant woman.

I often see families where loved ones do not have such thoughtful memories to draw upon. The lack of sweet familial experiences creates contention and self-doubt among descendants. Regardless of where you are in life, take the opportunity to create sweet memories with those you love. This dear woman is fortunate enough to know that her life will soon end, and dedicated enough to sacrifice her comfort for the future of those she loves. Sadly, this is not always the case near the end of life. Without notice, the grim reaper can call your number, and within a twinkling of an eye, life is over. Enjoy every moment you have with your family. Never waste an opportunity to express your love for them. If you do so, your family and loved ones will be better prepared for life without you by their side. They will face life with greater confidence and in times of weakness, they will be able to deflect temptation and heartache. They will survive, secure in their knowledge that you loved and provided for them, all that you could.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author, and freelance writer. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account @PushnUpDaisies, visit my website www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies” for additional encouragement and information.