How The Death Of A Family Member Can Shake Your World

January 3, 2017

Although death is a natural part of life that will touch us all at one time or another, we are never fully prepared for it when it happens. Acknowledging death’s existence in no way eases the pain of losing someone dear or steadies us when it is time to say goodbye. Indeed, the death of a family member has the ability to shake our world to its core, regardless of the last time we spoke or how close we considered ourselves to be — relationships, however fractured they seemed in life, are mourned no less in death. While it is a topic few people enjoy discussing or want to dwell upon, death is something that affects us all in different ways; how you cope with your loss and process your grief will help you to heal.

Reacting To The News Of A Loss In The Family

The way in which you react to the loss of a family member will no doubt be affected by the manner in which that person was taken from you. Some deaths, such as those of elderly relatives or loved ones affected by long term conditions, are to be expected, but are by no means any less painful; others, including family members taken from us unexpectedly as the result of an accident or unexpected illness, may be harder to process as you come to terms with the sudden void that is left. No two people will react to the news of a death in the family in the same way. It is essential that you understand grief is a completely personal emotion and will come to us all in various shapes and forms; the way in which you grieve will not define you or alter your relationship with that person. For example, some of us tend to tackle loss with pragmatism, seemingly detaching ourselves from the situation in order to get things done, while others may fall apart and struggle to cope in the aftermath of that family member’s death. Neither reaction means any more or less than the other.

The Affect Of Loss Upon Your Family And Its Members

While the loss of a loved one is likely to affect you deeply, its impact will be felt far more widely; the death of a family member can shake your whole world, including the lives of those you hold dear. If the family member was a close, integral part of your unit their loss will be incomprehensible. How will you function without their input or the opportunity to speak to them on a regular basis? Perhaps the missing family member was seldom seen or spoken to. Their loss is likely to still cause upset and may inspire a sense of guilt or remind you of how fleeting life can be. Whatever the circumstances, your family must pull together at such a time, particularly if there are children struggling to comprehend what has happened. Death is a matter we try and shield our children from, but this can often cause more confusion and upset; your children may be curious about the behavior displayed by the adults around them, and upset by their own feelings of grief that they are too small to interpret — do not be tempted to shield your child in order to protect them. Instead, be guided by your children or younger family members; answer their questions with honesty, provide reassurance and comfort when it is sought, and understand when space is being craved.

Handling The Parting Of A Family Member And Moving On

Handling the loss of a family member and moving forward can be done in two stages, personally and as a family. Give yourself time to grieve, do not be afraid to express your emotions, channel your anger or guilt into something productive such as a hobby, and attempt to create a sense of order that will comfort you when nothing else does. It is important now, more than ever, to listen to yourself and allow your head to rule. As a family, support one another, ask and answer questions in a supportive environment, and stay connected; be sure to stay in touch with family members you do not see every day, as their words and actions will be an enormous comfort and relief. Your ability to move forward following the loss of a family member will no doubt depend on how you choose to say goodbye, and a funeral or cremation service, or dedication service, may well be the most fitting way to accept your relation’s death, to say goodbye and gain closure, and to move forward. Whether you choose to speak or write a piece for the occasion is up to you, but a tribute or memorial is often a wonderful way to remember those happier times.

Hopefully, you have found this article informative and reassuring; death is a subject that many of us still feel uncomfortable with, although it is something we will all become familiar with at some time or another. It is important to remember that it is not unhealthy to think about death or to consider its implications upon you and your family. Take comfort from one another and reassurance from your own emotions; grief may be capable of shaking your world but it does not have to redefine it.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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