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After the Funeral - what comes next?

(33 Posts)
suzied Sun 09-Jun-13 06:21:07

On a previous thread I asked your opinion on whether my 4 small grandchildren should attend their much loved 16 year old cousin's funeral (my niece).The funeral has now happened and they did attend. It was a beautiful service with music, poetry ,a band, her friends giving very moving and some funny tributes. The church was packed. We chose a pale willow coffin with white and blue flowers in a beautiful wild arrangement. The children did some drawings and messages which we included in the order of servic as well as many lovely photos. They were told what was going to happen beforehand and they wanted to be there. There were lots of tears, but laughs and smiles as well. The children did not do the crematorium bit but we met up with many of her friends and well wishes afterwards at a large gathering where the children enjoyed running about and chatting to people. All in all it was as good as we could make it. Now the hard bit starts - how does anyone get over something so tragic? As I am writing this I feel a huge wave of sadness and I know I am going to have to stay strong to support my sister in her great loss.

Gagagran Sun 09-Jun-13 06:44:23

Oh Suzie my heart goes out to you and your sister and family at this awful loss you have all suffered. My cousin lost her 12 year old son - he died of an asthma attack in her arms - some 25 years ago and she has never been the same since. Her hair turned white, if not actually overnight certainly within a few weeks. So I do appreciate what you are all suffering.

There is no "getting over" the loss of a child. You just have to endure and gradually get accustomed to the loss but the pain and sadness, I am afraid, will always be there below the surface.

I send you best wishes and strength to cope with what has to be coped with and hope that you can all remember your lovely girl with joy and thankfulness that she was in your lives. flowers

whenim64 Sun 09-Jun-13 07:43:56

The funeral arrangements sound lovely, Suzie and so good that the children could be involved.

There's a 'what comes next' air of sadness in my family after my nephew died last year. He was in his thirties, but the sense of helplessness and loss from unexpected death was shocking and I don't know how you ever get over it, only come to terms with it. His mum, dad and siblings have done several things to keep his memory alive, and the latest one is a beautiful tree to be planted in his favourite place. We laugh about things he did, or would have done, wonder about why he went, and make positive efforts to bring him into general conversation because he was such a big part of our lives.

Things like mementoes for a memory box, a little garden with a place to sit and enjoy the peace, have helped my family. I'm sure others would say their religion helps them. My BiL has started going to church since my sister died, and he says it comforts him. Other people want to fundraise in the name of the loved one they have lost.

Don't feel you have to be strong all the time. You are grieving, too, and you can be just as helpful to your sister when crying with her and showing her how much your niece's death has affected you. Grief can be such a lonely thing, but sharing it with her can only help flowers

LizG Sun 09-Jun-13 07:54:54

I am afraid I agree with Gagagran's middle paragraph Suzied, there is no 'getting over.....', hopefully you will be able to talk of, and remember, the good times. The death of a child must be the worst thing imaginable. Whilst you hope to stay strong for your sister's sake, you need to allow yourself time to grieve as well; it is not weak to cry.

Dealing with this must give you the most unimaginable pain but do remember there are many listening ears on here when you need them (((hugs)))

bluebell Sun 09-Jun-13 08:41:39

Give yourself time, don't have unrealistic expectations of'getting over' -you will all hopefully one day live in a new reality that will be bearable. Lots of wise words above - just cry when you need to, talk about her often and be kind to each other and yourself. Life will never be the same again but it can still be a good life, just different if not the one anyone would have chosen.

Ella46 Sun 09-Jun-13 09:30:26

Kind, wise advice from everyone ^^ , empathy and good wishes from me suzied flowers

dorsetpennt Sun 09-Jun-13 09:44:54

No one gets over the loss of a dear one. My mother died aged 46 years old in 1969. A day never goes by that I don't think of her. Now I can think of her without being in floods of tears, I've learnt to handle it better. Time is how we get on with our lives without the people we have loved and died.

Grannyknot Sun 09-Jun-13 09:49:21

suzied so sorry for the loss of your niece. For me, reading is very therapeutic, and although people (even family) will sometimes say to me, 'why would you want to read something sad at a time like this', books like Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking" is an amazing piece of therapeutic writing, she lost her beloved husband her daughter in a very short space of time. As for reading sad stuff, I know when I've had enough, and I turn my attention elsewhere. But if a book has moved me, I will re-read it.

The pain of losing someone you love gets less piercing over time, more muted, but I don't think that it will ever go away.

Hunt Sun 09-Jun-13 10:05:46

So glad you took the children .I was 16 when my dear Granny died and I wasn't allowed to go to her funeral. I felt we never really said 'goodbye'.

harrigran Sun 09-Jun-13 11:37:26

suzied sending best wishes at a very difficult time flowers
Our niece died, aged 25, while we were abroad and we did not make it back for the funeral.
Just be there for your sister, she has someone she can rely on and just be with even if she does not want to talk.

sunflowersuffolk Sun 09-Jun-13 12:12:46

So very sorry for you all Suzie - so terrible xxx

I know it's not the same, but when my darling Dad died, we found his diaries after, not deep personal things, just a record of their everyday life. These gave me so much comfort for the first few months. It was like bringing him nearer and recalling happy times.

I just wonder if some way of raising money together for a charity in her name would help you all at all? Or maybe the little ones could make a keepsake book with all their happy memories of their cousin, they could draw pictures, add photos, and write down their particular memories of their cousin. If the book was there, they might feel sad at times and just want to add to it. Your sister might in the future, take a little comfort from it too.

I also think the idea of a garden for her would be lovely. The girls could plant forget me nots, and there could be a wind chime.

For you and your sister and family, I am sure you never get over the loss of a child, but these ideas may help the children a little. Take care xx

mollie Sun 09-Jun-13 12:17:26

There is no getting over such a loss but life goes on. That's the shocking thing for those directly involved ... How is that possible? And guilt plays a part: I'm laughing at a TV programme and yet my loved one is dead, I'm bad! I'm thinking about having a night out and yet my loved one only died a few weeks ago! I'm bad! As someone who has direct experience I'd say be guided by your sister and her family and let them mourn their way but be prepared for ups and downs, progress and relapse. Everyone mourns differently, some pick up quickly and some take a very long time to go through the process. I send my condolences and kind wishes to the whole family...

Mishap Sun 09-Jun-13 13:00:57

I am so glad that the funeral was a fitting tribute that gave everyone support, including the little ones - how nice that they had their own very personal contribution ti make - much better than standing on the sidelines wondering what is going on. Well done everyone for finding a way of including them that helped them to come through this difficult time.

No-one ever gets over such a dreadful loss - but we do move on and look for the pleasures in life where we can find them - and brace ourselves for the sad moments. Go gently with the flow and do not feel that there is a right or a wrong way to deal with this - your way is your way and that is OK. I am sure that your instincts will help you find a way to support your sister.

I send all good wishes.

gracesmum Sun 09-Jun-13 13:34:51

It sounds as if you did all the right things regarding the funeral to make it a celeberation of a life as well as a "Goodbye". I can add no more to what the others have said - there is no "getting over" this sort of loss. There will be better days and worse days and a day might come before too long where you find that you have not thought about your niece for perhaps a few hours - that is part of the healing process. The children may seem to bounce back quicker than you would expect, don't feel they are not grieving however. The only thing is to keep life going on as securely and steadily as you feel able. You and your sister and BIL may alternate being the "strong" ones. You share her loss and grief but do not worry about being strong for her. Maybe planting some bulbs in the autumn to remember your niece by next Spring might be something for the children to be involved in - I always feel planting for next year is a testament to faith in the future. Good luck to you all. flowers

suzied Sun 09-Jun-13 14:54:21

Thanks for all your kind comments. We have set up a Justgiving memorial page to collect money for charities. I will send a link to anyone who would like to see it ( you dont have to give a donation!)I don't know if its allowed to post it here publically so I would happily send the link via a pm. It's got some nice photos and comments on it. We can't decide what we want to do with her ashes though, that's another hurdle . Have no ideas . Has anyone got any thoughts on this?

whenim64 Sun 09-Jun-13 15:27:12

Suzie my BiL has saved my sister's ashes to be scattered jointly with his in the Lake District. Other family members have been scattered into the sea (he was a sailor), on hallowed ground, surreptitiously on Manchester United's pitch (not really allowed!), at the base of a tree in their garden, in memorial gardens, and on favourite countryside walks.

I suppose you can be as creative as you want. Apparently, there are some places that don't permit ashes to be scattered. I guess where there is a particular wish about them, people will try their best to fulfil it (hence the Man U one - that was achieved in the style of the Great Escape - a little down the trousers of some dear friends and fellow fans, during an escorted visit round the stadium).

KatyK Sun 09-Jun-13 15:55:07

There are no easy answers. My nephew died at 16 after a 2 year battle with leukaemia. The shock was unbelievable. My brother and sister-in-law threw themselves into fundraising for the hospital where he was treated. It gave them something to focus on and they felt they were helping others. Unfortunately my sister-in-law (his mum) died a few years later at the age of only 49. A double tragedy for my brother and us all. I would just say try to be there for each other as much as possible which I know you will anyway.

FlicketyB Sun 09-Jun-13 18:45:35

You do not get over it, you just learn to live with it. It is over 20 years since my sister did following a road accident. As I was driving home this afternoon, one of the pieces of music I always associate with her came on the radio and I wept.

NfkDumpling Sun 09-Jun-13 19:57:27

I echo all the above sentiments and wish you all the courage and fortitude you need to support your family. Look after yourself too.

Deedaa Sun 09-Jun-13 20:42:54

Thank God I have no personal experience of this sort of tragedy! can only tell you about a friend of our's who went through a horrific divorce, involving threats and the Police, and then when she and her 14year old daughter were nicely settled her daughter was killed by a car. Because of the terms of the divorce she lost her home because she now had no child, her family were 300 miles away, and we really could not see how she would ever recover. I have no idea how she found the strength, but over the next few years she somehow got her back together. She can't ever have filled the hole her daughter left - but she did somehow survive. In the early stages I think she got through it by endless campaigning to improve the road where her daughter was killed, which I suppose gave her a reason to carry on.

chrisy Sat 15-Jun-13 20:34:58

I can understand that you never got closure. I was 16 when my gran died. I went to her funeral. By doing this I felt that I had said good by to her.

FlicketyB Sun 16-Jun-13 09:36:38

I keep seeing this word 'closure' used in relation to grief but have never worked out what it means. Surely not the point where you can dismiss the loss of someone dear with a shrug and a laugh. The rawness and shock of grief that surrounded the death of my sister has long gone but even now a piece of music out of the blue or seeing something that we would have giggled about and shared, will bring a catch to my throat and a sudden yearning. The same applies to memories of my parents. Does that mean I do not have closure. In which case I do not want it.

Ella46 Sun 16-Jun-13 09:53:14

Personally, I don't think 'closure' can relate to grief, only to the acceptance that someone has died, maybe suddenly or too young, which makes their death hard to accept.

j08 Sun 16-Jun-13 09:56:30

A funeral tells you you now have to get on with life as best you can. I think that's what "closure" means. Of course, it doesn't mean you stop grieving.

Aka Sun 16-Jun-13 10:17:22

You don't stop loving someone just because they die. Time does not heal but it does, as Ella says, bring acceptance.