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.