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Gifts of Love: A Grief Relief Column

Jenny Filush-Glaze, LPC
Grief Relief

remember standing in the cemetery looking at the headstones in front of me.  To one side, the names of my maternal grandparents — their birth and death dates clearly visible.  And to the other side, the names of my parents, even though they were standing beside me alive and well.  You see, they recognized the overwhelming feeling of grief that people typically experience after the death of a loved one and because they had been through numerous and difficult losses, they understood not only the importance of planning ahead, but also the ultimate gift it could be to each other as well as to their children.

At the time, I felt a little “creeped out” by seeing their names etched in stone on what would be their final resting place.  Trying to wrap my mind around why on Earth they would do something like this was difficult to fathom and perhaps, at the time, I wasn’t ready to entertain that thought and might have even said something aloud like “This is really morbid.” 

But now I know better.  Now I know the sacrifices they made by planning not only for their future but for ours as well so that “we didn’t have to.”  It was one of the greatest gifts our parents could have given to us and yet because they are still healthy and present in our lives, it is a detail that is often overlooked. However, inevitably, when the time comes, just the thought of not having to make those hard choices or sit down at a funeral home and go over some very difficult information and make decisions while in the midst of our grief fog, is a relief unlike any other.

Sure, it’s not flashy.  It’s not a fat bank account or a shiny piece of jewelry passed along in the family, but it is a treasured gift that we will all come to appreciate. 

How do I know?  Because I witness almost daily the anguish that loved ones face when having to make those difficult choices — which funeral home, whether to be buried or cremated, marker or no marker, etc.  Some families have never even had those discussions and feel at a complete and total loss when death occurs because they struggle with not only wanting to honor their loved ones wishes but sometimes don’t even know what those wishes are, to be honest.

For those that are comfortable having those conversations and are able to plan ahead and make arrangements ahead of time, you should know what a tremendous gift you are giving to your family. 

Again, it probably goes underappreciated by many at the time, but when it is needed, it is something that many experience tremendous relief from not having to make those very stressful decisions. 

Just knowing that things have been taken care of, that it is all in writing and pre-paid can make a difference in one’s grief journey.  So seriously, if you haven’t thought about it before, please consider doing so now.  It only takes a moment of your time to ensure that your wishes are being honored and that your family is prepared and taken care of after your death. 

True, visiting the funeral home and making plans is not as preferable as say going out for an ice cream cone, but believe me, in the end, it is a gift that will be treasured forever. Thanks mom and dad.