Long Distance Lamentation: Managing Grief from Far Away

*This guest blog was written and submitted by Jan Miller from Safety Today.*

It isn’t always possible to be there when a loved one dies. Here are some things you can do when you can’t say goodbye or be there to support the rest of your family and friends.

Accept the Situation

There are many reasons that you may be unable to attend your love one’s funeral. Illness and inability to travel are nothing to be ashamed of and are perfectly valid reasons to forgo the service. Give yourself permission to accept the situation, and know that life has to take priority over death. You Have A Calling offers advice on how to accept what you cannot change. You will no doubt come across a family member who holds your absence against you. Remember that you do not have to justify your choices -- especially ones that are this hard to make -- to anyone.

Deal with Stress

There is an undeniable link between grief and stress. Chris Woolston, M.S., explains that grief can take on the form of physical illness. It can cause exhaustion, disorganization, and confusion. When compounded by the guilt of your absence, grief can leave you stressed, depressed, and feeling unlike your usual self, but only if you let it. Learn a few self-soothing techniques, such as stretching, which can release muscle tension and give you an instantaneous mental boost. Alternately, you might read a book, go for a walk, or meditate to get your mind focused on something other than your loss.

Assist with Arrangements

There are many steps that must be taken after a death to coordinate a funeral and/or memorial service. Most of this can be done from a distance, over the phone or online. Offer to take this burden off the closer family members so they can make other decisions, such as picking a burial outfit and comforting any children close to the deceased. Also, know that because of the Funeral Rule established by the FTC, you have the right to receive quotes over the phone and are not obligated to use your chosen mortuary’s casket or urn, something they may be inclined to talk grieving family members into if onsite making arrangements.

Stay in Touch with Loved Ones

In the hustle and bustle of life after a death, the most important thing you can do is keep in touch with your family. Thankfully, technology makes it easy. A phone call is a wonderful way to let everyone know you are thinking of them. If you have an iPhone, Android phone, or Amazon video-enabled device, you can make face-to-face calls.

Visit When You Can

You may not be able to break away now, but make plans to visit your loved ones as soon as possible. Being able to visit the grave site can offer closure and help you move into a later stage of grief. It’s also a wonderful way to keep your love one’s memories alive for your children.

Memorialize the Loss

Even if you are able to visit after the funeral, it can help to memorialize the one you lost. Some do this by putting photos of them on the wall; others add a stepping stone in their gardens in their loved one’s honor. There is no wrong way to remember someone who has passed on. Whatever you do, make it something they would have approved of. Legacy.com acknowledges a few of the many unique ways to honor a loved one.

Don’t give into the stress of grieving from afar. Death does not wait for a convenient time, and your life doesn't stop for someone else’s death. These are both facts that sometimes make it impossible to be there to say goodbye