When You’re Unable to Attend a Loved One's Funeral
Coping with the loss of a loved one never is easy. If you are unable to attend the funeral and spend time with family in-person during this emotional time, it becomes even more difficult to manage your grief. You also may face the challenge of explaining to family members why you were unable to attend; they may not be thinking clearly enough to understand that you cannot afford to travel a long distance to the funeral or take time off if you don't get bereavement leave. Here is how to deal with being unable to attend a loved one’s funeral:
1. Be Present from a Distance. Thanks to the miracle of technology, you can be present at the funeral or help others cope with the loss from a distance. One option is to place video calls to your closest relatives to spend time sharing memories and stories about your departed loved one in honor of his or her memory. Some smartphones have a built-in video call feature, but if your family members have different carriers or phones than you do, you can use a service such as Skype.
In addition, you could ask a dear family member to stream the funeral service using social media and a private link so you can view the service and feel as though you are present even when you are miles away. If you want to participate in remembering your loved one, you can record yourself singing a song or reading a poem or scripture and ask your family to play your recording at the appropriate time during the service.
2. Acknowledge Your Grief and Work Through It. Participation in the grieving process is an important part of losing a loved one, and you may feel even more grief or anger because you cannot attend the funeral. Even if you cannot mourn with your family by your side, you need to acknowledge your feelings and face them, so you can cope with the loss of your loved one in healthy ways.
An online bereavement program like Neptune Society's 12 Weeks of Peace is a solution that you can access via your email to receive helpful resources, information, and creative ideas for helping you move through your grief. Each weekly email contains seven days' worth of content that you can access at any time to help you find some peace and comfort in the wake of your loss. You can also share the program with your family members and move through the grieving process together.
3. Provide Support for Family Members in Other Ways. If you cannot attend the funeral in-person, you can support the rest of your family during this emotional time. One of the most challenging aspects of facing a loved one's death is handling the funeral arrangements. You could offer to oversee the flowers or catering arrangements to ease the burden on your family. You may choose to look online for businesses that can fit your family's needs, or you may choose to call small local businesses to handle your requests. Either way, you can make phone calls to the businesses and iron out all the details so your family does not have to do so.
Another way to support your family members from afar is to raise money within your company or circle of friends and make a charitable donation in memory of your loved one. Families frequently request that friends and loved ones make donations to a charity that means something to the family or the deceased. It would be a lovely gesture if you could raise a sum of money and donate it to the charity in your departed loved one's name.
It is ideal for you to attend your loved one's funeral and go through some of the grieving process with your family. However, it is possible to deal with being unable to attend the funeral if you take steps to be present from a distance, acknowledge your grief and work through it, and provide support to your family members in other ways.
—Janice Miller, Guest Contributor
Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care offers free grief support to the community at large. For more info, contact us today at 336-789-2922 (toll-free 1-888-789-2922).
Tags: Grief Support