Grief and How to Cope

Below is an article by Frazer Consultants that I found to be the most helpful in defining grief.
When it comes to a loss, everyone has their own way of processing and coping with their feelings. Because of this, it’s difficult to define grief because everyone is different and there are different types of grief as well.

It’s important for families to know that there is a difference between grief and mourning. Those grieving often use them interchangeably, but they have two different meanings. Grief is the beginning of the mourning process that can last weeks, months, or even years. It’s when loved ones are coping with a loss and may feel physically tired, achy, weak, or other grief symptoms.

When someone is in the mourning stage, it means they’ve accepted the loss and are trying to adjust to a new routine without their loved one. It’s important for families to know that there’s no “normal” amount of time to mourn. It’s different for everyone, and may last months, years, or even forever depending on the person they lost.

Let’s go over the different types of grief to get a better grasp on how to end it.

Anticipatory Grief
This type of grief is when you’re faced with an impending loss, such as one that’s due to a long-term illness. The grieving process begins while the person is still alive and causes people to feel guilty or have anxiety.

Delayed Grief
This type of grief may occur if someone is too busy to grieve or they’re putting off their grief. Both are harmful to the healthy grieving process, as they aren’t facing the reality of their loved one’s death.

Masked Grief
Masked grief is when someone is unconsciously trying to avoid confronting their grief. They may turn to habits to hide their grief, like alcohol. It’s important for them to confront grief and healthy ways to cope with it.

This is when someone may be mourning themselves, such as if they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness. This also could be when someone is mourning the part of their life they shared with a deceased loved one.

Sudden Grief
Sudden loss can lead to complicated grief because loved ones aren’t able to process the death when it initially occurs. Emotions can be left unresolved and resurface later because that person hasn’t had time to mourn their loss in a healthy way.

Normal Grief
There really is no such thing as “normal grief,” but healthy grieving eventually leads to the acceptance of the death. Although those grieving will always miss their loved one, their symptoms of grief get better with time after grieving in healthy ways.

Different for Everyone
By understanding the different grief types, you can help families nd healthy ways to grieve based on their speci c circumstances. You also can look out for signs that they’re putting off their grief and help guide them in a direction of healthy grieving. As we just discussed, grief isn’t defined by how to grieve, as it’s different for everyone. It’s the general process of coping with grief that is unique to the individual.

There are different factors that can play a role in how someone grieves. To start, your personality type can influence how you grieve, whether it’s more privately or with groups
of people. Of course, not everyone grieves exactly how their personality type typically grieves, as they may see characteristics of themselves in other types. But, it can provide insight for those who are grieving on what techniques may work best for them. By identifying someone’s dominant personality type, you can suggest some grieving

The three main personality types we’ll go over are introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts.

An introvert is shy and needs time alone to recharge after spending time with people. They may feel drained after the whole funeral experience and engaging in conversations with family, friends, and acquaintances. When coping with a loss, they may need time alone to re ect inwardly on their thoughts and feelings. When adjusting back into the world, it may take them longer to get back into their regular routine. They may feel overwhelmed with people’s questions asking how they’re doing. Sometimes they may want to talk about it, but ultimately, they need to be alone with their thoughts to heal.

An extrovert is outgoing and feels energized after spending time with others. While grieving, they may want to go out and be with their friends, which shouldn’t be misjudged as ignoring grief. They also may be misjudged for taking time to themselves, since this may be out of their norm. Loved ones may be concerned if they’re not acting like themselves, but it’s important to remember that they’re grieving. The best route is to ask an extrovert what they need from you, whether it’s giving them some space or spending time together.

An ambivert is a combination of an introvert and an extrovert. They may be more introverted or extroverted depending on the situation and how they are feeling. When faced with grief, they may see themselves both wanting to talk about their grief and needing some alone time. This combination works best for them, as they get to let out some feelings, but also have some privacy.

Age also plays a role in how someone processes and copes with the loss of a loved one.
For example, children and adults process grief differently, because young children may not understand the permanence of death. According to Kenneth Doka, the editor of OMEGA Journal of Death and Dying, one in five children will experience the death of a close loved one by the age of 18. Statistics like these show the importance of families knowing how their children may process grief and how they can help them cope. Let’s go over how much different age groups understand about death and some ways they may cope with grief. This is helpful information to share with parents who have children grieving a loss of a loved one.

Children ages two to four don’t understand the permanence of death yet. The absence of the deceased is confusing and they may feel misunderstood or alone. By age nine to 12, they realize that everyone is going to die someday. Everyone handles grief in their own way, but these are some ways children may react to death, depending on their age and their own grieving process:
• Anger and irritability
• Asking excessive questions about the deceased
• Denial, shock, and confusion
• Drop in school performance
• Guilt
• Inability to concentrate
• Inventing games about dying
• Loss of appetite
• Physically achy
• Reverting to behaviors they had previously outgrown
• Unable to sleep or having nightmares

As for teenagers, they understand the permanence of death, but they might be afraid of it. It may be hard for them to discuss these fears, and they want to regain a feeling of self- control. To feel back in control, they may partake in risky behaviors because they don’t think anything bad will happen. 
Adults can help teenagers and children grieve by having open conservations and listening when they want to talk.

Some other ways they can help are to: 

• Grieve together
• Offer them love and reassurance
• Help them nd a unique way to memorialize the deceased
• Encourage them to ask questions
• Seek professional guidance if necessary


Since adults have fully developed brains and memories with the deceased, grief may be dif cult because they’re fully aware of their
loss. Loved ones can help adults grieve by listening, providing love and support, and helping them memorialize the deceased. 
 Grief also may be more difficult for adults who suffer from depression. Those grieving and those with depression have similar mental and physical symptoms, so when someone has both, it can amplify these symptoms. Some simple ways you can help someone manage grief when they suffer from depression are to:
• Let them know you’re supportive of their medical care and, without being too invasive, make sure they continue to seek whatever treatment they received before their loss.
• Be there to listen if they want to talk about their loss.
• Stay in contact with them and invite them to healthy activities, but don’t be too pushy.

Men and women have different grieving methods due to their slightly different brain structures. According to a study by Yale researchers referenced in a HuffPost article, men are more left-brained than right- brained, while women tend to go back and forth between the two sides. The study also found that women’s brains have more emotional activity, while men’s brains have more rational activity. And per day, women say up to 8,000 words and use as many as 10,000 gestures, while men use less than 4,000 words and less than 3,000 gestures. When it comes to how they communicate grief, women want conversations to be intimate and express feelings, while men want conversations to have a clear purpose and solve a problem. Of course, not everyone may be into their gender’s typical grief communication methods, as they may see characteristics of themselves in both.

Along with the factors mentioned above, there are many other things that influence how people grieve. It could be their religion, cultural beliefs, or even their location. Everyone’s situation is different, as is their grieving process. If you want more information on different cultures’ views on death, check out our weekly cultural spotlight articles. Regardless of the type of grief and the factors mentioned above, everyone needs to take care of themselves. If needed, encourage families to seek professional guidance, such as from your funeral home. You can provide them with grief resources and programs we’ll discuss later in this eBook. In the next section, we’ll discuss some healthy ways to grieve that you can suggest to families.

To read the complete 24 page e-book please go to: ebook

When a Loved One Dies

What Do I Do When A Loved One Dies?

Where does one begin when a loved one passes?

What is the process?

Who do you call?

What needs do be done?


These pertinent questions come up for family members when a loved one passes away.  A sense of being overwhelmed can take over as a family or friends are never fully prepared for a loss. My role is to journey with you to help design a funeral, memorial service, Celebration of Life or graveside service that will honor your loved ones.

I will schedule a time to meet with your family to share memories, anecdotes and special moments in your loved one’s life. The essence of the service will be based upon the remembrances of the family.  I will consult with you to prepare a service that reflects and memorializes the life of the person who has passed. That might be through special music, songs, ceremonies, poems or visual tributes. I will also compose a eulogy that will reflect who your loved one was, their gifts, strengths, and what they meant to others. It will be a sharing of the heart.  We will work in partnership to make the service a memorable one.

When a loved one dies, you might face the overwhelming responsibility of 
closing out the persons life. There are many things to attend to, from providing a proper tribute to closing bank accounts to cancelling a golf
membership. Many of the tasks require attention to detail — adding stress to what is already a pretty emotional time.

Documents Needed to Complete Checklist
 Death certificates (maybe a dozen)
 Social Security card
 Marriage certificate
 Birth certificate
 Birth certificates for any children
 Insurance policies
 Deeds and titles to property
 Automobile title and registration papers
 Stock certificates
 Bank books
 Recent income tax forms
 Loan and installment payment books and contracts

1. Arrange for organ donation. It may be the last detail you want to think about, but arrangements need to be made almost immediately at death so the organs can be harvested as promptly as possible. Not certain about the persons wishes? Two sources to check: the drivers license and an advance health care directive, such as a living will or health care proxy. If the answer is yes, the hospital where the person died will have a coordinator to guide you through the process. If your loved one died outside of a hospital — that includes in hospice or a nursing home — contact the nearest hospital. Staff will be on hand to answer questions about what’s next. There is no cost.

2. Contact immediate family. Of course you want to update key family members. Bringing them together in person, by phone or electronically (via mass email, Skype or Facebook Family page), is an opportunity not only to comfort one another but also to share information about important decisions that must be made — some of them immediately. Do any of you, for example, know of an arrangement for the funeral or other source for burial wishes?

3. Make funeral arrangements. It’s up to the executor named in the will to make funeral arrangements even if that executor isn’t the next of kin. Most of the time this isn’t a problem, as we know who our loved one has appointed to look after the estate.

4. Look at immediate money issues. This might include paying for the funeral, or paying urgent bills such as a heating bill for the deceased’s house in the middle of winter. If the funeral bill (and some other bills) are taken to the deceased’s bank, the bank will likely pay the bill from the deceased’s account, providing of course there is enough money in the account. Make sure that if the deceased had joint bank accounts with his or her spouse, you talk to the bank to ensure that joint accounts aren’t frozen.

5. If the deceased’s home is vacant, secure it and notify the insurer. Make sure that insurance is kept in place on the home. Later on during the administration of the estate, you can worry about discontinuing insurance, but for right now, make sure it stays in place.

6. Check the safety deposit box. This is a good place to look for the original will, but you might also find letters written to loved ones to be opened on death, valuables, or important papers. Make sure nobody takes any of this except for the executor named in the will! If you aren’t the executor, don’t touch it. If you are applying to the court to be an administrator because there is no will, don’t touch anything until you have that court order in your hands.

7. Find the original will. Assuming that the deceased had a will, you will need the original to apply for probate. Even if you don’t plan to apply for probate because all assets were joint with the deceased’s spouse, it’s a good idea to find the will. Anyone who finds the original will MUST give it to the executor named in the will.

8. Get copies of the Death Certificate. There are two types of certificates. One is issued by the provincial government and is called a Death Certificate. This is available through registries, but you have to wait a few days until the registry receives proof of the death and registers it. The other type of certificate is called a
Funeral Directors Statement of Death. Because you get this from the funeral home, you can get it very quickly.

9. Have the deceased’s mail redirected to the executor. This is more important when the deceased lived alone than when the deceased was living with a spouse.

10. Place an obituary in the local newspaper. Most families like to place a notice to let friends, clients, neighbours etc. know of the death in time to attend the funeral. Notify various parties of the death and cancel coverages. Some of these must be done fairly quickly, such as notifying the federal and provincial governments when the deceased was receiving benefits. Notifying them has the effect of stopping monthly payments such as CPP and OAS. You should also notify the deceased’s bank quickly. Other notifications you should consider are (depending on the circumstances) the deceased’s employer, life insurance company, provincial health care plan, private health care plan, landlord, motor vehicle registry, credit card companies, Veteran’s Affairs, doctor’s office, and all utilities in the deceased’s name such as telephone,
cell phone, electricity, internet etc.

Apply for the CPP death benefit. Forms for this are usually supplied by the funeral home. This benefit is available to anyone who was eligible for CPP retirement or disability benefits. It isn’t a huge amount of money but it was designed to help pay for funeral costs. The application should be made by the executor, if you know who that is going to be. Otherwise next of kin can apply.

This list was condensed and adapted from Chapter 1 of Lynne Butlers, Alberta Probate Kit.  10 things to do following the death of a loved one and I added a few more.

How I Can Help

How I Can Help

I feel very privileged to be able to support families during their time of loss. My role as a trained Funeral Celebrant is to conduct funerals for families in English or French who wish to have a personalized and individualized funeral ceremony.

I can also do pre-planning funeral ceremonies in advance, whether someone is facing a terminal diagnosis or would simply like to provide their family with guidance. There is no greater gift you can give your family than knowledge of how you would like to be honoured.

I will listen to your stories and transform them into a personal and relatable one-of- a-kind ceremony that will add meaning and depth to your life’s ordinary and extraordinary moments.

There are many ways to do this such as a candle or sand ceremony, balloon release, collage photos, photo DVD, personalized floral spray, bookmarks, “In Loving Memory Stones’, Memory Jars, Shadow box and any other ideas that would be memorable for you and those attending the service.

If family members want to participate in any aspect of the funeral they are encouraged to do so.

My responsibilities as the Officiant on the day of the service will

 Prepare the order of service
 Liaison with the Funeral Director
 Master of Ceremony
 Welcome
 Reflection/Reading/Poem
 Co-ordinate the music whether electronic or live
 Eulogy
 Memory Take away
 Recessional Music
 Graveside service if required