Goodall & Bourne
FUNERAL UNDERTAKERS 

A Death has Occurred

If you were present during the final moments in a loved one’s life, then you’ve been fortunate. We believe that while nothing prepares you for being present at the death of a loved one, bearing witness to their passing can bring new insights into your own capacity for selfless love and caring, renewed or intensified bonds with other family members, a new respect for siblings or a healing of old emotional wounds. It is a priceless gift – but it’s one you may not truly value until much later.

So, Who Do You Call First?

Whether you were sitting right next to the bed, or was unfortunate to get a call at 2 a.m. with news of a death of someone you loved, chances are your first feelings were of “being numb” and confused. But, if you’re responsible for making the funeral arrangements or executing the will, you really can’t give into the shock or grief – you’ve got to move forward, and take care of things.

What to do first depends on the circumstances of the death. When someone dies in a hospital or similar care facility, the staff will usually take care of some arrangements, such as contacting the funeral home you choose, and if necessary, arranging an autopsy.

However, you –or a designated family member or friend – will need to notify others. We’ve found it to make it easier on you if just a few phone calls are made to other relatives or friends, where you ask each of them to make a phone call or two to specific people. In that way, the burden of spreading the news isn’t all on you.

And if you are facing this situation alone, then ask someone to keep you company while you make these calls. In that way, you’ll be better able to cope with the first hours after the death.

One of the first calls which should be made is to a licensed Funeral Director. Call us at 021 697 1116 to help you with:

·      Transporting the body of your loved one

·      Obtain a death certificate

·      Select a casket, urn and/or grave marker

·      Arrange the funeral, memorial and/or burial service

·      Prepare and publish the obituary

·      Help notify the deceased’s employer, attorney, insurance company and banks

·      Offer grief support

·      Direct you to other resources

Don’t Forget to Call the Employer

Was your loved one employed? Then, you’ll need to call his or her employer immediately, to let them know of the change in the staffing arrangements.

At some later point (most likely when the funeral is over), you should ask about the deceased’s benefits and any pay which is owed to them, including vacation time.

Also ask if you or other dependents are still eligible for benefit coverage through the company. And, you might ask whether there is a life insurance policy through the employer, who the beneficiary is, and how to file a claim.

Call the Life Insurance Company

If your loved one had a life insurance policy, locate the related paperwork. Call the agent or the company and ask how to file a claim. Usually the beneficiary (or the beneficiary’s guardian, if a minor) must complete the claim forms and related paperwork.

You’ll need to submit a certified copy of the death certificate and a claimant’s statement to establish proof of claim. Remember to ask about payment options. You may have a choice between receiving a lump sum, and the having the insurance company place the money in an interest-bearing account from which you can write checks.  


What to do in the event of death  

Death by natural causes {at home}

·      Because doctors are reluctant or unwilling to come to the home of the deceased, especially at night it is advisable to call the police and paramedics. Do not be alarmed that the police will be involved. This is standard procedure and the police have to permission for the body to be removed.

·      The paramedics {ambulance staff} will certify the persons death and will issue a declaration of death form and leave it with the family.

·      The police will give permission for the body to be removed by completing a S.A.P.S 180 form which will be left with the family. Without this form no undertaker may remove the body, except when a medical doctor is present.

·      When the police, paramedics, doctor and family members have finished call the undertaker to confirm that the body is ready for removal.

·      If a person passes away at home and there is not sufficient medical history, the body must go to the state mortuary to establish the cause of death, as doctors will not give the BI 1663 {Notification Of Death}. In such cases an inquest document has to be obtained so that the undertaker can obtain a case number. The family will have to furnish details of the deceased’s state of health during the last few days before his/her death. After this the undertaker will take the body to the state mortuary to finalise the paperwork. A family member will have to be present to identify the body.

·      When calling the undertaker, please have the deceased persons I.D and hospital card {if the deceased attended hospital during the preceding 3 months before death} available and hand it to the undertaking staff responsible for the removal.

·      Inform the removal team of the name, I.D NO, Telephone and cell phone numbers of the person to be contacted by the undertakers.

·      Thereafter the undertaker will contact the family to arrange the funeral.

3.    Deaths at hospitals, hospices or old age homes  

3.1The resident doctor will issue the BI 1663 form, and if these institutions have no mortuary facilities contact the undertaker who will then remove the body as soon as possible, day or night.

4.    In some cases

·      The doctor will need to consult with the family, so please be available when required.

·      The family will nominate the contact person who will arrange the funeral with the undertaker.

5.    The undertaker

·      Will remove the body as soon as possible and safe keep it in cold storage facilities at their funeral parlour.

·      Record the left and right thumbprints of the deceased on the first page of the BI 1663 form.

·      Take all relevant documents to the department of home affairs for registration of the death and obtain a death certificate.

·      Arrange the funeral according to the family’s instructions and guide them accordingly.

·      Will provide facilities for the family to view the body should they so desire.

·      Accept any special instruction and clothes they would want to have the deceased to be dressed in prior to burial.

6.    Members of the N.A.C Burial Fund

·      Contact your section priest or rector before finalising arrangements regarding the date, time and venue.

·      Members are free to choose any undertaker on the church’s panel.

·      VERY IMPORTANT: Family members or member of the deceased MUST come in to the Funeral Parlour themselves to arrange the funeral and to sign ALL LEGAL documentation in order for cremation or burial to take place.

7.    Cremation or Earth Burial

·      The choice is the family’s prerogative

·      Bear in mind that the availability of graves are limited on Saturday’s and if the funeral continues after 13h00 {1:00PM} the cemetery will levy an extra charge.   

Death as a result of accidents, illegal activities, suicide, unnatural causes or violence

·      Contact the police immediately, NO undertaker may remove the body in such cases

·      The police will remove the body and take it to the state mortuary for an autopsy to establish the cause of death and will then issue a BI 1663 form.

·      A family member / next of kin will be asked to identify the body and will then be given permission for the body to be removed by an undertaker of their choice.  


How to Tell Family Members

When the death is unexpected, the news will surely have been a shock to you – so you need to expect that reaction in those you tell. Even when the death is expected, as in a long illness, or when a loved one is in hospice care, the news may be difficult to deliver.

Before you go any further, the overriding question to ask – no matter the situation, is this one:

What Do You Want this Experience to be Like for Your Family?

Think about it. This will be a time in their life they will always remember. Just how do you want them to look back on it?

We’re confident you’d say you want them to remember it as a time of loving compassion; where the news of their loved one’s death was delivered with kindness and understanding. And that takes forethought. One aspect of thinking ahead includes avoiding the Internet channels of communication during the first hours after a loved one dies.

You want to be very careful that this information is not broadcasted through Facebook or Twitter (or any other social media site), or via Instant Messaging, before you’ve had the opportunity to connect with family members personally.

Stop, Think…and then Speak

You know your family members, and chances are you can predict how each one of them needs to be cared for during this difficult time. Our best advice is that you walk into this situation with your “eyes wide open”, and set the stage accordingly.

Should you call them in the middle of the night, or while they are at work, or school?

Only you know the answer. But, when you tell them is an important consideration, and your family member deserves your clearest thinking on the matter of when you tell them the news.

Then, you need to think about how you will break the news. It’s preferable to deliver such news in person, but if that’s not possible, a phone call will have to do. In either case, we have some valuable suggestions:

• Protect them by asking them to sit down. After all, such news can often make someone’s knees buckle, and send them crashing to the floor.

• Choose your words carefully. You know the right words for the person you’re speaking to hear. If using a phrase like “passed on”, “passed away”, or “gone to a better place” makes sense, then use it. If you think they would they would rather hear their loved one has died, then that word is appropriate.

• Give them as many of the details involved in the death as you feel they need to hear right now.

• When you’re done, ask them if there’s anything they would like to know, and if there is, answer their questions as best as you can.

• Let them know they can continue to ask questions during the days ahead, and that they can openly express any emotions they are feeling now – and in the future – such as fear, guilt, sadness, depression, or anger.

After the call is made, or the news shared in person, keep the lines of communication open. And in the days to come, help your family member (to the best of your ability, considering your own grief) work through these emotions by encouraging them and reassuring them. Naturally, family members should support one another; so don’t neglect to turn to them for support as well.

Death, no matter the circumstance, is hard for us to handle. Keep in mind that the best thing that you can do for anyone when informing them of a death is to deliver the news thoughtfully. Let them know that you are there for them and that you love them. That too is an essential truth they need to know.

 

PREPARING FOR THE FUNERAL SERVICE 

What is a funeral?

A funeral is a time when friends and family gather to celebrate a life and mourn the loss of a loved one. They occur in cultures and societies around the world, and have deep personal and social significance. We know a funeral is the starting point of the recovery process and the first step toward healing.

How much does a funeral cost?

The cost of a funeral depends entirely on your wishes for the funeral. Funeral costs are made up of professional services, charges for transporting the body and presentation of the body, casket costs, vehicle charges, and fees for the doctor, minister, or cremation.

Personalizing a funeral is also a factor in the cost. While we have many options to help you memorialize your loved one in a meaningful way, those options all have costs attached.

How do I make funeral arrangements?

You can call a funeral director to make an appointment or plan it online. We offer this service free of charge, and without obligation.

What is a pre-arranged funeral?

A pre-arranged funeral is a funeral arrangement made prior to death. You can pre-arrange your own funeral or you can pre-arrange a funeral for a loved one. Pre-arrangement is a way for you to make sure your life is celebrated in a way that is meaningful to you. It also relieves your loved ones of the burden of arranging a funeral for you.

What type of funeral service should I have?

The answer to that question is very personal – how would you like it to be? A funeral service can be open to the public or accessible by invitation only. You can choose a large service or a small one. And, if you’re deeply religious, you can follow the liturgy of your faith.

Perhaps you want something completely out-of-the-ordinary, and that’s possible too. Our funeral directors are trained to provide you with support and guidance to help you plan a funeral that truly reflects your needs and desires.

Can I personalize my funeral service?

In a word, yes. We believe that each funeral should reflect the life of the deceased – and no two people are the same. We invite – no, we encourage –you to let us know exactly how you want you or your loved one to be remembered, and we will do our best to create a ceremony that will truly celebrates the life lived.

Why should we have a public viewing?

Not every tradition encourages a public viewing, but we believe that they serve a purpose. In making a viewing part of your funeral service, you provide a certain amount of closure to all in attendance. This isn’t just our opinion; studies show that viewing the body helps everyone recognize the reality of death which is an important stepping stone in the grieving process.

What should I do if a death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?

It’s simple: call us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need immediate assistance, one of our funeral directors will be there.

What should I do if a death occurs while away from home?

It’s comforting to know that our funeral directors can help you no matter where a death has occurred. We’ll take care of everything from bringing your loved one back home; to helping you arrange the service. All you need to do is call us. We’ll take care of the rest.


Meeting With Goodall & Bourne the Funeral Undertakers

Once a death has occurred, you will need to meet with a funeral undertakers to begin the final arrangements. Often this is a very hard time for family members and loved ones. Our staff will be here to guide you in making decisions and to help make this difficult time a little bit easier.

Who Will Go With You?

One decision that will need to be made when a death has occured is who will go with you to the funeral home. Do you have a list of people that are availble within the first 24 hours to make the final arrangements?

Who Will Make the Decisions?

Deciding on your loved ones final goodbye will be challenging but not impossible. The funeral home will help you in providing the answers to questions you may have. They will help you understand what is involved in planning a funeral and be there to support you in any way that you need. Something you will need to think about is who will be making the decisions? Will it be you? Will it be someone with you at the funeral home?

Who Else is Involved in the Arrangements?

Does the deceased have children, friends, family that would like to be a part of arranging the funeral? Do you know how the deceased felt about funerals or what their final wishes were? You and your loved ones know the deceased best and your funeral home will work with you to help in celebrating a life lived.

Do you have the information gathered for the paperwork?

When a death occurs, it is a legal matter that requires paperwork. To better prepare yourself for the arrangement at the funeral home, it may be helpful to gather documents needed. Below are a list of documents needed when a death has occured:

·      Account Statements of the deceased

·      Life Insurance Policies

·      Beneficiary Designations

·      Deeds for Real Estate

·      Automobile and Boat Titles

·      Stock & Bond Certificates

·      Pre-nuptial Agreements

·      Post-nuptial Agreements

·      Loans

·      Leases

·      Copies of Bills (utility, cell phone etc.)

·      Last Will and Testament and any Codicils

·      Revocable Living Trust

·      Tax Returns

·      The Next of Kin arranging the funeral needs to  bring with his/her ID as well the deceased’s ID.

 


Burial or Cremation?

The funeral is an important step toward healing, not only for yourself, but for everyone who is affected by the loss of your loved one.  There are a number of things to consider when putting someone’s final arrangements in place.

Which type of service will help you and your loved ones heal?

You will need to decide if you want your loved one to be buried or cremated. If you choose to have your loved one buried, you will need to decide if you want to have a viewing with the body present and if you want this viewing to be public or private. You will also need to make arrangements for a cemetery plot.

If you choose to have your loved one cremated, please remember that you can still have the body present for viewing before the cremation. Many families do not know this option exists and do not get the needed closure to be on their path to healing. You will then need to decide if you would like the cremated remains scattered or kept in an urn or other keepsake.

Too often, people choose a fast service with little time for remembering a life lived. Having a funeral service with time to say goodbye and proper measures in place to ensure that your loved one is remembered now and in the future  is important, not only for your healing, but for others as well.

Cremation

Cremation only with Memorial service or no service or Private Cremation

Having the body present at home/church or both for viewing or service and then we cremate the body privately and provide family with the ashes 3 or 4 days later.

Full Cremation

Having the body present at home/church or both for viewing or service, then to Maitland OR Durbanville crematorium where the cremation will take place immediately, The ashes will then be available on the same day or the next morning.

We, at Goodall and Bourne only make use of ICSA Maitland or Durbanville Crematorium.

Burial

Next of Kin needs to decide on a cemetery and if they want a Private or Public grave. Should the family already have a plot at a cemetery, the Next of Kin needs to provide the undertaker with the Plot number and the details of the person currently buried in that grave.

 

What happens if I have a problem with how a funeral was handled?

If we handled the arrangements, then call us. We’ll do everything we can to resolve the issue.

We take pride in caring for the families who trust us during this difficult time. But, we’re well aware that sometimes things can go wrong, and if they do, you need to tell us.

Why do we need an obituary notice?

An obituary notice is helpful for friends and family of the deceased. It informs them that a death has occurred and gives them information about the service. Obituaries can be placed in newspapers and online.

What is included in an obituary?

A basic obituary includes the deceased’s full name, age, date of birth, city and state they were living in when they passed away. It should also include the name of the deceased’s significant other, and the date, time and place of the viewing, burial, wake and memorial service. If you don’t have this information yet, you can always write something such as,

“Funeral arrangements are being made by the funeral home and will be announced at a later date.”

You may wish to add additional details, such as the names of any children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, parents, other close relatives or special friends. You may wish to write about the deceased’s life, accomplishments and legacy. You may suggest preferred charities for memorial contributions and let people know if you would rather not receive flowers.

What is embalming?

Embalming is the temporary disinfection, preservation, and restoration of the body. During the embalming process, the body is washed and dressed and cosmetics are applied.

Is embalming necessary?

If the body has to be transported to a country that requires embalming, then yes, it is necessary. Otherwise the decision is up to you. Some religious traditions forbid embalming. If your religion allows it, we recommend embalming if there is a long wait before burial or cremation.

What is involved in cremation?

The casket or container is placed in the cremation chamber where the temperature reaches 1,400-1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. After approximately 2.5 hours, all organic material is consumed by heat and evaporation, and the bone fragments are left behind.

These are known as the cremated remains, which are then carefully removed from the chamber and processed into fine particles to be placed in a container or urn for the family.

Do I need a casket if I choose cremation?

No, you do not need to purchase a traditional casket. But, for sanitary reasons, crematories usually require a combustible, leak-proof, covered container. Commonly, a relatively-inexpensive cardboard cremation container is all you need to purchase. However there are other, more elegant options available as well.

Can I have a visitation period and a funeral service if cremation is chosen?

By all means, yes. We encourage families to have a gathering – whether it’s a simple visitation, or a more elaborate funeral or memorial service – to support the bereaved and begin to mend the social fabric, torn by the loss of a member of the community.

What can be done with the cremated remains?

The cremated remains can be interred in a cemetery plot or retained by a family member — usually in an urn, scattered on private property or at a place that was important to the deceased. The cremated remains can be scattered at sea, or the skies above a special, well-loved place. You can also incorporate the remains into an artificial reef, to be lowered onto the sea floor. There, your loved one provides sanctuary for sea life for years to come.

There are also elegant ways to memorialize a loved one using small amounts of the cremated remains, including art glass, oil paintings, and man-made diamonds. Or you can take a small amount of the cremated remains to include in a piece of cremation jewellery.

 

Giving A Eulogy

Journalist Peggy Noonan said,

“I love eulogies. They are the most moving kind of speech because they attempt to pluck meaning from the fog, and on short order, when the emotions are still ragged and raw and susceptible to leaps.”

While writing and delivering a eulogy is a noble gesture, that is worthy of thought and effort, it can be a challenge to write – and if you’re not comfortable in front of a crowd of people, it can be equally as challenging to deliver.

However, it is an opportunity to make a contribution to a memorial service, a contribution that your friends and family will remember for a long time. For that reason, if you are asked to write one, we suggest you consider doing so, if only for yourself.

That’s because writing a eulogy is a therapeutic tool to help you deal with your grief. The power of writing is undeniable and there is no better time than now for you to discover and take advantage of this.

What Should Your Eulogy Accomplish?

People often think one of two things about a eulogy:
• It should be an objective summation of the deceased’s life

• It should speak for everyone who is present at the memorial service.
Both of these assumptions are just plain unrealistic, don’t you think? How can you possibly be objective after losing a loved one; or sum up a person’s life in just a few minutes of time?

Let’s think of the eulogy as being much simpler. It should convey the feelings and experiences of the person giving the eulogy. The most touching and meaningful eulogies are written from a subjective point of view and from the heart. So don’t feel compelled to write your loved one’s life story. Instead, tell your story.

Clearly, the burden of the eulogy does not have to be yours completely. If you have the time, ask friends or relatives for their recollections and stories.

Honesty is very important. In most cases, there will be a lot of positive qualities to talk about. Once in a while, however, there is someone with more negative traits than positive qualities. If that is the case, remember, you don’t have to say everything if it would make you, or the guests uncomfortable. Just be honest as you can, and do your best to show the full humanity – both the good, and the not-so-good, characteristics of the deceased. After all, everyone there knew them, and is there because they want to acknowledge their relationship to the deceased. In other words, you have a “warm” audience, who will welcome your words.

Don’t Strive for Perfection – You’ll Make Yourself Crazy

Remember, you do not have to write a perfect eulogy. Whatever you write and deliver will be appreciated by the people at the funeral. If you are inclined to be a perfectionist, lower your expectations and just do what you can, considering the short time frame for preparation and your emotional state.

When You Step Up to the Podium

• Realize that people are not going to judge you. They will be very supportive. No matter what happens, it will be okay. If you break down in the middle of your speech, everyone will understand. Take a moment to get composed, and then continue. There is no reason to be embarrassed. Remember, giving a eulogy is a noble gesture that people will appreciate and admire.

• Make the eulogy easy to read. On a computer, print out the eulogy in a large type size. If you are using a typewriter, put extra carriage returns between the lines. If you are writing it by hand, print the final version in large letters and give the words room to breathe by writing on every second or third line.

• Before the service, get a small cup of water. Keep it with you during the service. When you go to the podium to deliver the eulogy, take the water with you in case you need it. Sipping water before you start and during the speech if needed, will help relax you.

• If you are nervous beforehand, breathe deeply. Remind yourself that everything will be fine. It will be. Look around at your relatives and friends and realize that they are with you 100 percent.

• Realize that it is acceptable to read the eulogy a loud. You don’t have to make eye contact with anyone.

 

Writing An Obituary

An obituary also serves as notification that an individual has passed away and details of the services that are to take place. But it can be for more than that. A well-crafted obituary can detail the life of the deceased, with style.

An obituary’s length may be somewhat dictated by the space available (and the related costs) in the newspaper it is to appear in. Therefore it’s best to check how much room you have before you begin your composition. Remember that the obituary needs to appear in print a few days prior to the memorial service. There are some cases where this may not be possible, therefore give some consideration to the guidelines below when composing the obituary.

What Should You Include?

Naturally, it is vital that the full name, along with the location and date of passing is included so that there is no confusion over who has died.

You may wish to consider placing a photograph (which can appear as black & white or in color depending on the newspaper’s layout) with the text. There are usually extra charges applied if you are thinking of using a photograph.

If you wish, mention where the deceased resided. Do not include the street address, for security reasons; just mention the city and region/state/province/county.

In a concise manner, write about the significant events in the life of the deceased. This may include the schools he or she attended and any degrees attained; you may also include any vocations or interests that the deceased was involved with.

Add the Names of Those Left Behind…as Well as Those Who Went Ahead

It is common to include a list of those who have survived the deceased, in addition to those who passed away prior to the death of your loved one. The list should include (where applicable):

• Parents

• Spouse and children

• Adopted children

• Half & step children

• Siblings • Half- & step-siblings

• Grandparents

The relatives listed above may be listed by name. Other relatives will not be mentioned by name but may be included in terms of their relationship to the deceased. In other words, the obituary may mention that the deceased had 5 grandchildren, or 7 great-grandchildren.

Also, anyone listed as a special friend or companion is not normally included amongst the list of survivors unless the deceased’s blood relatives request that it be so. The obituary’s traditional purpose is to list survivors either related through the bloodline or marriage.

Additional information such as where the body will be laid to rest and any pallbearer’s names or names of honorary pallbearers may be mentioned.

At this point list the details of the time and location of any services for the deceased: these may include the funeral, burial, wake and memorial service where appropriate.

Tips for Crafting a Complete Obituary

If you don’t know where to start, do read other obituaries to gain an idea of how personal and touching an obituary may be.

Do use such terms as “visitation will be from” or “friends may call from”. Do not say the deceased will “lie in state” as that only applies to a head of state such as the prime minister or president.

Don’t use the phrase “in lieu of flowers” when memorial donations are to be requested, as this limits how readers can express their sympathy. Perhaps they want to send flowers to the family – and unless you are adamant that flowers are not wanted, the phrase is decidedly “off-putting”. Instead merely start the final paragraph of the obituary with the words “Memorial donations may be made to” and then state the charity’s name.

If you wish, send the obituary to newspapers in other cities or towns where the deceased may have resided previously.

Obtain copies of the obituary to send to distant relatives and friends.

Final Considerations

Any and all information to be included in the obituary should be verified with another family member. A newspaper will have to verify with the funeral home being utilized that the deceased is in fact being taken care of by that funeral home.

Seeing as most newspapers charge by the word when placing an obituary, it may not always be feasible to mention everything that we have stated in our guidelines. Use your own discretion and do not put yourself under any financial hardship. Your loved one would understand.

Today there are online memorials, such as the Book of Memories, where the obituary can be available for the cyber-community of the deceased to view. It is also a place where friends and family can leave messages of condolence, light a memorial candle, or share photographs and videos. If this sounds like a good option for your family, call us to learn more.

After the Service

We can only speak about what services we offer our families and we stand behind our services 100% of the time.  One thing that is very important to Goodall & Bourne is that we ensure that our last contact with the families we serve is never the invoice for the funeral.  We offer support in our after care program to support the bereaved family in helping them complete pertinent documents and ensure their affairs are looked after.  Our service does not end at the cemetery.

 

Funeral Etiquette

Most of us are uncertain about what to do at a funeral. We see it all the time. In fact, I think Funeral Directors are the only people who are truly comfortable in this social setting. After all, we’ve had a lot of practice.

We’ve put together this section to share everything you need to know to help you do the right thing before, during and after the service.

Offer Words of Condolence

Offering comforting words to the family is usually the easiest thing you can do. It’s also something the family will appreciate and remember. If you’re attending the service, offer your condolences in person or share a story or special memory about the deceased. If you can’t be there, send a card or share your message using the Book of Memories online memorial tribute page.

Sign the Register

When you sign the register at the funeral home, be sure to list your name and your relationship to the deceased. The register is something the family will have forever, and they will appreciate knowing who you are and how you knew their loved one in years to come.

Send a Gift to the Family

Appropriate gifts include flowers, a donation to a charity (oftentimes the family will have a preferred charity), food or a service. You can send your gift to the family’s home or the funeral home. Please ensure you include a signed card with your gift so the family knows who sent it. However, please take a few minutes to recognize that certain faiths

have proscriptions about what should be sent to the bereaved. If you’re unclear, check with a close family relative or friend.

Stay in Touch with the Family

Depending on your relationship with the family, you may choose to stay in touch in person, by telephone or online. The grieving process can be long and difficult, so don’t just walk out of their lives after the funeral service. You will serve the family well by letting them know you’re there for them during the days, weeks, and months follow the death of their loved one.

What to Wear

Historically, people wore black or only somber colors to a funeral. Today it’s acceptable to dress in a wider range of colors and clothing styles. In fact, we’ve seen services where the family asked everyone to dress in pink, or in colorful Hawaiian shirts and shorts. But, these unique events aside, a good rule of thumb is to dress as you would at church or a job interview.

Have other questions about funeral etiquette? Contact us. We’ve got the answers you’re looking for – after all, we’ve been to hundreds of funerals. So call – we’d love to help you get through what can (but doesn’t have to) be a challenging social situation.

 

Dealing with Grief:

“Is reaching out for someone who’s always been there, only to find when you need them the most, one last time, they’re gone.”

The death of a loved one is life’s most painful event.  People’s reactions to death remain one of society’s least understood and most off-limits topics for discussion. Oftentimes, grievers are left totally alone in dealing with their pain, loneliness, and isolation.

Grief is a natural emotion that follows death.  It hurts.  Sadness, denial, guilt, physical discomfort, and sleeplessness are some of the symptoms of grief.  It is like an open wound which must become healed.  At times, it seems as if this healing will never happen.  While some of life’s spontaneity begins to return, it never seems to get back to the way it was.  It is still incomplete.  We know, however, that these feelings of being incomplete can disappear.

Healing is a process of allowing ourselves to feel, experience, and accept the pain.  In other words, we give ourselves permission to heal.  Allowing ourselves to accept these feelings is the beginning of that process.

The healing process can take much less time than we have been led to believe.  There are two missing parts.  One is a safe, loving, professionally guided atmosphere in which to express our feelings; the other is knowing how and what to communicate.

 

The Grieving Process

 

When we experience a major loss, grief is the normal and natural way our mind and body react. Everyone grieves differently. And at the same time there are common patterns people tend to share.

For example, someone experiencing grief usually moves through a series of emotional stages, such as shock, numbness, guilt, anger and denial. And physical responses are typical also. They can include: sleeplessness, inability to eat or concentrate, lack of energy, and lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed.

Time always plays an important role in the grieving process. As the days, weeks and months go by, the person who is experiencing loss moves through emotional and physical reactions that normally lead toward acceptance, healing and getting on with life as fully as possible.

Sometimes a person can become overwhelmed or bogged down in the grieving process. Serious losses are never easy to deal with, but someone who is having trouble beginning to actively re-engage in life after a few months should consider getting professional help. For example, if continual depression or physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, inability to sleep, or chronic lack of energy persists, it is probably time to see a doctor.

Helping Yourself Heal in Grief

Allow Yourself to Mourn

Someone you love has died. You are now faced with the difficult, but important, need to mourn.  Mourning is the open expression of your thoughts and feelings regarding the death and the person who has died. It is an essential part of healing. You are beginning a journey that is often frightening, painful, overwhelming and sometimes lonely. This brochure provides practical suggestions to help you move toward healing in your personal grief experience.

Realize Your Grief is Unique

Your grief is unique. No one will grieve in exactly the same way. Your experience will be influenced by a variety of factors: the relationship you had with the person who died, the circumstances surrounding the death, your emotional support system and your cultural and religious background.
As a result of these factors, you will grieve in your own special way. Don’t try to compare your experience with that of other people or to adopt assumptions about just how long your grief should last. Consider taking a “one-day-at-a-time” approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace.

Talk About Your Grief

Express your grief openly. By sharing your grief outside yourself, healing occurs. Ignoring your grief won’t make it go away; talking about it often makes you feet better. Allow yourself to speak from your heart, not just your head. Doing so doesn’t mean you are losing control, or going “crazy”. It is a normal part of your grief journey. Find caring friends and relatives who will listen without judging. Seek out those persons who will “Walk with, not in front of” or “behind” you in your journey through grief. Avoid people who are critical or who try to steal your grief from you. They may tell you, “keep your chin up” or “carry on” or “be happy.” While these comments may be well intended, you do not have to accept them.  You have a right to express your grief; no one has the right to take it away.

Expect to Feel a Multitude of Emotions

Experiencing a loss affects your head, heart and spirit.  So you may experience a variety of emotions as part of your grief work. Confusion, disorganization, fear, guilt, relief or explosive emotions are just a few of the emotions you may feel. Sometimes these emotions will follow each other within a short period of time. Or they may occur simultaneously.
As strange as some of these emotions may seem, they are normal and healthy. Allow yourself to learn from these feelings. And don’t be surprised if out of nowhere you suddenly experience surges of grief, even at the most unexpected times. These grief attacks can be frightening and leave you feeling overwhelmed. They are, however, a natural response to the death of someone loved. Find someone who understands your feelings and will allow you to talk about them.

Allow for, Numbness

Feeling dazed or numb when someone loved dies is often part of your early grief experience. This numbness serves a valuable purpose: it gives your emotions time to catch up with what your mind has told you. This feeling helps create insulation from the reality of the death until you are more able to tolerate what you don’t want to believe.

Be Tolerant of Your Physical and Emotional Limits

Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you fatigued. Your ability to think clearly and make decisions may be impaired. And your low energy level may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Nurture yourself. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals.  Lighten your schedule as much as possible. Caring for yourself doesn’t mean feeling sorry for yourself; it means you are using survival skills.

Develop a Support System

Reaching out to others and accepting support is often difficult, particularly when you hurt so much. But the most compassionate self-action you can do during this difficult time is to find a support system of caring friends and relatives who will provide the understanding you need. Find those people who encourage you to be yourself and acknowledge your feelings – both happy and sad.

Make Use of Ritual

The funeral ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide you with the support of caring people. Most importantly, the funeral is a way for you to express your grief outside yourself. If you eliminate this ritual, you often set yourself up to repress your feelings and you cheat everyone who cares for a chance to pay tribute to someone who was, and always will be, loved.

Embrace Your Spirituality

If faith is part of your life; express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you are angry with God because of the death of someone you loved, realize this feeling as a normal part of your grief work. Find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of whatever thoughts and feelings you need to explore.

You may hear someone say, “With faith, you don’t need to grieve.” Don’t believe it. Having your personal faith does not insulate you from needing to talk out and explore your thoughts and feelings. To deny your grief is to invite problems that build up inside you. Express your faith, but express your grief as well.

Allow a Search for Meaning

You may find yourself asking.  “Why did he die?”  “Why this way?” “Why now?” This search for meaning is another normal part of the healing process.  Some questions have answers.  Some do not.  Actually, the healing occurs in the opportunity to pose the questions, not necessarily in answering them.  Find a supportive friend who will listen responsively as you search for meaning.

Treasure Your Memories

Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after someone loved dies.  Treasure them.  Share them with your family and friends.  Recognize that your memories may make you laugh or cry.  In either case, they are a lasting part of the relationship that you had with a very special person in your life.

Move Toward Your Grief and Heal

The capacity to love require the necessity to grieve when someone you love dies.  You can’t heal unless you openly express your grief.  Denying your grief will only make it become more confusing and overwhelming.  Embrace your grief and heal.
Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly.  Remember, grief is a process, not an event.  Be patient and tolerant with yourself.  Never forget that the death of someone loved changes your life forever.  It’s not that you won’t be happy again.  It’s simply that you will never be exactly the same as you were before the death.

“The experience of grief is powerful.  So, too, is your ability to help yourself heal.  In doing the work of grieving, you are moving toward a renewed sense of meaning and purpose in you life.”

Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt

 

Accepting a Loss

 For each of us – rich or poor, young or old – there are times in our lives when we must face and deal with personal losses and the pain and sorrow they cause. Examples that come easily to mind are the death of a parent, spouse, child, or other close family member or friend. Many other events and transitions also bring with them sadness and a need to grieve:

·      Being told you have a serious, possibly terminal illness.

·      Having to give up interests and activities that have been a major part of your life.

·      Seeing serious decline in mental or physical health of someone you love.

·      Retiring from a work career or voluntary activity that has helped shape who you are and what you stand for.

·      Losing a significant part of your independence and mobility; even giving up driving a car can be a significant loss for many people.

·      Moving out of your home.

·      Saying goodbye to a favorite pet.

Losses such as these are simply part of living. Like their counterparts among the joyful occasions in our lifetime – the birth of a child or grandchild, a celebration of marriage, an enduring friendship – they are part of what it means to share in the human experience. And the emotions they create in us are part of living, as well.

 

Someone You Love is Dying

Although it is impossible to totally prepare for a death, a death may be made easier if you know what to expect. It is important to discuss your concerns and fears with those around you, both your family and health care providers. These people can help you make choices with or for your loved one and can inform you about other services that are available to support you.

Death is a natural process as the body begins shutting down. The following physical and emotional signs of approaching death are described to help you understand what can happen. Not all these signs and symptoms will occur with every person nor will they occur in any particular sequence.

This section is intended only as a guide. It is not intended to replace advice given by a health care professional such as a nurse, physician, clergy member, social worker and/or pharmacist.

It is helpful to plan ahead. Know what your loved one’s wishes are so that they are respected. Making funeral arrangements in advance reduces the number of decisions that will need to be made right at the time of death. It also provides an opportunity to talk about arrangements, concerns and feelings.

For Them:

·      Sit with the dying person; hold his/her hand. Reassure the person with a reminder that you are there.

·      Do not speak about your loved one as though he/she isn’t there. Hearing remains until the moment of death.

·      Identify your self by name. Speak softly, clearly and truthfully when you need to communicate.

·      Talk to him/her while giving care and explain what you are doing.

·      Sitting quietly at the bedside, playing soothing music or reading  something comforting may achieve a calming effect.

For Yourself:

Normal family routines may be disrupted and you may feel you have lost your ability to concentrate on anything, You may wish sometimes for things to be over because of the uncertainty, helplessness, emotional and physical exhaustion you may be experiencing.
Feelings such as guilt, anger, frustration or sadness are common among people who are supporting a person during a terminal illness

Tears are a natural expression of one’s feelings. Some may internalize their feelings and may not be able to cry. Both reactions are normal.
Good byes are appropriate. Both the family and the person dying may find comfort in this process of “letting go.”
During this time a member of the clergy, chaplain or a spiritual adviser can provide support and comfort to both the family and the person dying. Certain religions have rites or sacraments that may be desired by the client or family at this time.

Physical Signs of Approaching Death

Reduced food and fluid intake

Loss of appetite and decrease in thirst are common. The body is beginning to shut down and does not need nourishment. People commonly feel it is necessary to encourage the person to eat in the hope of sustaining life; however, food and fluid may cause discomfort. The person may ask for ice chips, popsicles, ice cream or some other food choice. Do not be surprised if only a mouthful or two is taken. When swallowing is no longer possible, mouth care provides moisture and comfort. Do not offer a fluid if swallowing is not possible.

Elimination

Output of urine and stool will decrease as the food and fluid intake decreases. Urine and stool may also change color, be passed less frequently and in smaller amounts. Other factors such as immobility and medication may contribute to this.

Your loved one may lose control of bladder or bowel function as the muscles begin to relax. In this instance it may be necessary to use an incontinence brief.

Ask the health care professional about the management of these symptoms. It is important to provide skin care and cleansing on a routine basis.

Sleeping

Sleeping an increased amount of time is common. It may become more difficult to waken the person. As death nears, the person may slip into a coma and become unresponsive.

Restlessness and disorientation

Confusion as to time, place and recognition of people, even family members and close friends is common.

At times your loved one may become restless. For example, he/she may reach out to unseen objects, pull at bedclothes or try to get out of bed. This can occur for many reasons such as lack of oxygen circulation to the brain or changes in condition or medications. It would be helpful to discuss these changes with a health care professional.

Changes in breathing

Regular breathing patterns may change. Breathing may stop for 10 to 30 second periods or there may be periods of rapid, shallow panting. These breathing patterns are normal and indicate the natural progression towards death.

A moaning sound occurs as the breath passes over the relaxed vocal cords.

Congestion

Gurgling sounds, often loud, occur when a person is unable to cough up normal secretions. This does not normally cause pain or discomfort. It may be helpful to turn the person to one side and gently wipe away secretions with a moist cloth. As secretions build up, keeping the head of the bed elevated (by using pillows) will make breathing easier. Sometimes medications can be ordered to help dry up secretions.

Oral suctioning may be done, however, this usually causes an increase in secretion production.

Skin

You may notice the skin begin to change color and become cooler to touch.

The face may be pale and the feet and legs a purple-blue mottled color. The circulation of the blood is slowing down.

Although your loved one is cool to touch, he/she is usually comfortable. Offer a warm blanket but avoid using an electric blanket to prevent the risk of skin burns.

Social and Emotional Signs of Approaching Death

As death approaches, the person becomes quieter and less interested in physical surroundings. He/she may become withdrawn, less sociable and also be confused about time and place.

Vision like experiences may occur. The person may see or speak to people and places not visible to you. Try not to explain away what the person is saying. Be supportive by listening to the person.

The person dying may be going through different emotional states such as guilt, anger frustration, helplessness or sadness. Tears are a natural expression of one’s feelings and may occur in both the person and his/her family.

People vary greatly in their spiritual and religious beliefs and needs. During this time a member of the clergy, chaplain or a spiritual adviser can provide support to both the dying person and the family. It may be helpful for you to attend to your own special cultural needs at this time.

 

To help prepare for one’s own transition

Having your affairs neatly in order and easy to find is possibly one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family and loved one’s. We suggest the following free tools to help you get started:

·      Filling in a ‘to do when I die‘ list will help prompt you of all the things you may want to add to your will.

·      For simple estates, one can use Funeral Guide’s free will template. Read the information on how to make a valid will and the wills FAQ to ensure that your will is valid.

·      If you do not wish to be suspended in a dying state by life support machines when there is no chance of recovery, read about the Living Will and fill in the free Living Will template provided on Funeral Guide. The right to dignity in The South African constitution supports the Living Will.