Stress Awareness Month: Dealing with stress and grief
We all know what it’s like to feel stressed. Stress can be emotional (like feeling overwhelmed or anxious), mental (such as struggling to make decisions or stop worrying) and/or physical (suffering from headaches or having problems sleeping). When you combine stress with grieving for a loved one, things can become even more difficult and we can struggle to find a way forward.
If you’ve been watching After Life on Netflix, you’ll know how Ricky Gervais’ character, Tony, takes on a completely opposite persona to his former ‘happy go lucky’ attitude, in an attempt to push away those trying to help him after losing his wife to cancer. He goes through all sorts of emotions as his grief takes hold, which also affects those around him.
Stress Awareness Month
As April is Stress Awareness Month, we thought it would be helpful to put something together on dealing with stress around death, and specifically, funerals. On the back of more and more campaigns around opening up about mental health (Time to Talk – https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day) and talking about death (Dying Matters – https://www.dyingmatters.org/), we hope we can help to make the process just that little bit more manageable for everyone.
Take the pressure off
When a loved one dies, things can move fast. The first couple of weeks are when you’re feeling all sorts of emotions, but this is also the time that a few things need sorting. The important thing is not to put too much pressure on yourself to get everything organised immediately; prioritise what needs doing straight away and don’t worry about anything else.
It’s quite usual for the family to contact a funeral director immediately after a death. A medical certificate, which will give the cause of death, is required in order for the death to be registered and once all the required documents are processed, the deceased can be taken into our care. You can then take your time to start organising the funeral, knowing your loved one is safe with us.
Your loved one may have spoken to you about their wishes for the funeral, but if not, we’re here to talk through all of the options with you. Take your time to reflect and think things through.
Causes of stress
There are many things, alongside time pressures, that can cause stress at this difficult time. Recognising them early on will enable you to get help where it’s needed.
- Family disagreements – it can be very hard when everyone has different ideas of what they want to happen. The best way to avoid any dispute is by having the conversations with your loved ones early on, such as the type of funeral you want and whether you want to be buried or cremated.
- Money worries – funerals can be expensive and money troubles are a great source of stress. Funeral plans enable you to pay towards your own funeral so that your family don’t have to worry.
- Bottling things up – as we said at the start, we can feel all sorts of emotions when we lose someone; from anger to isolation. Make sure you talk to someone, whether that be a vicar, a friend or someone independent, such as a counsellor.
- Feeling out of control – it can be very daunting to try and get everything right. The best way to feel in control is to understand the funeral process in advance, so you know what to expect.
- Meeting family/everyday demands – if you’ve got a family, your own business or other responsibilities in life, it can be even more difficult to juggle everything. Always ask for help if things get too much.
How to reduce the stress of organising a funeral
Here are some simple ways to keep your stress at a manageable level when things get tough:
- Look after yourself – try and get some sleep and eat well-balanced, regular meals
- Ask for help where you need it, such as with completing legal documents or making decisions
- Keep in touch with your funeral director who will help you to prioritise what needs to be done
- Take your time with the planning
- And, most importantly, keep talking
Coping at the funeral
The funeral itself can be stressful, but by seeking help to plan everything in advance you can allow yourself time to take everything in without unnecessary stress.
Make sure you surround yourself with a good support network on the day and don’t try to make everything perfect. What you say and do will come from the heart and you’ll have plenty of people around you to share memories with. Take the day one step at a time and be kind to yourself.
Talking about death with your family will reduce stress for everyone when the time comes. We’ll talk more about this next month during Dying Matters Awareness Week (13-19 May). In the meantime, if you need any help or assistance don’t hesitate to contact us.