Our Blog

How to Handle Death Anniversaries

funeral homes in Matoaca, VA

Each year when the anniversary of a death comes around, it can be tough to get through the day. Many people feel the overwhelming grief they felt when the person first died, making them dread the arrival of that day every year. There are ways, however, to make it easier on you. Many funeral homes in Matoaca, VA even offer suggestions to go about this, since they see this issue so often. Here are some of the suggestions they have.  

It is important to be prepared for the day. If you find your grief crippling, it may be impossible to do everyday things like laundry or errand runs. If this is the case, the best thing you can do is to do all of those tasks ahead of time. That way, you will not have the weight of a to-do list added to your grief. Another thing to keep in mind is that you may want to have people around you so that you do not face the day alone. Plan in advance so that you have someone with you.  

It can be a great idea to do something that your loved one would have liked. This can mean getting out of your home and doing something fun without feeling any kind of guilt, which is common. Some people try to do something completely new, while others choose a simple activity that would have meant something to the deceased.  

During the anniversary of a death, you may not feel hungry, but not nourishing your body is a mistake. To balance out your moods, your body needs fuel. Try to stick to your regular meal schedule and make sure you stay hydrated. Simple things like this can have a huge impact on how you handle the day, so do not ignore them.  

Do not be afraid to decide on your own method of getting through the day. Some people find that having their family nearby is not as beneficial as they would want, since they can remind them of the loss. Not everything works for everyone, so if you find that you are getting more upset instead of less, try to change your tactic. Everyone grieves a bit differently and you should give yourself the freedom to do as you need to do.  

All of these tips can help you prepare for a death anniversary. It is important to know that not feeling sad is also perfectly fine. Some people feel guilty if they do not experience a bit of grief, but every mind and person processes things differently and at different time schedules. Give yourself permission to deal with the day in the way that best suits you, not in the way that other people expect. If you find yourself needing some help, contact a Matoaca, VA funeral home for information on local grief counselors. Reach out to a company like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service. You can visit them at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or call them at (804) 275-7828. 

The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room

February 19, 2019

As a Pastor and Certified Celebrant, I have encountered many families plunged into a river of grief. Sitting with them,I feel the depth of their loss and pain. My purpose for being with them is two-fold: To bring some level of comfort and reassurance; to facilitate the family’s desire to paint a verbal portrait of the deceased, preparing me to celebrate their life story during the memorial service. The goal is to honor their loved one and help the family process their grief. I am privileged to be invited into their lives.

The years I have spent with grieving families have revealed this basic truth: Dysfunction IS the new normal! Every family is normal until you get to know them and has some level of dysfunction.It is amazing the way a funeral can unearth a deeply rooted family mess,exposing the “elephant in the room”.I have encountered family meetings where people did not speak to each other.The worst meetings are those stifled by tension filled silence, where dagger glances replace spoken communication.

On one occasion, a family member became so agitated over the choice of burial site that he abruptly stood up to leave and knocked a display item off the shelf, breaking as it hit the floor. The three other family members were in mutual agreement on a burial site. I had to gently remind the man that he could not make this all about him. When he left, the family apologized for him and thanked me for saying what needed to be said. When the elephant left the room, the atmosphere cleared, and much progress was made.

I want to highlight a family I served where the strained relationships were obvious to family and friends. With the guidance and permission of a family member, I concluded that the funeral service would provide an opportunity to tactfully speak to family dynamic. In doing so, I tenderly and lovingly reminded those in attendance of the need for healing by embracing these concepts:

Complicated Relationships

The deceased was a complex man. His imposing six feet six-inch frame carried a strong-willed military bearing. Though very gifted, he was insistent that his way was the right way. This rigidity obviously negatively impacted the family. There were many sides to this man. I used the analogy that all of us have multiple sides. Some of us are triangles, some are rectangles,and some are octagons. The deceased was indeed, an octagon. And one’s opinion of this man depended upon the angle you encountered. A friend of the family described him as “an acquired taste.”

Complicated Relationships… Plus…The Messiness of Grief…

Grief magnifies complicated relationships. This man was divorced and remarried and had become estranged from his children. So, when arrangements involved expenses and logistics, the latent anger and resentment inevitably surfaced. Even the issue of who should receive the Military Honors flag was contested. I have discovered that the pain of grief will bring unhealthy relationships to the forefront. Hurts are uncovered and scabs are scraped off. And all of this happened before the memorial service, which made the tension before and during the service palpable.

Complicated Relationships Plus The Messiness of Grief Equals…The Need for Healing!

The funeral or memorial service can be the catalyst for positive change. As the Director of Aftercare, I meet with people in need of working through their grief in the context of family dysfunction.

It has become clear to me that death really can bring life. Broken relationships can be repaired. Bridges can and should be rebuilt.

The sad truth is that the passing of someone with an octagonal personality can usher in peace. Families are often held captive by those who thrive on conflict and divisiveness. Their death can release the family from a toxic environment to experience a rebirth of mutual acceptance and respect. Sadly, while the family rediscovers harmony, the “elephant in the room” will require a large casket.

Greg Webber has served as Pastor to churches in Kentucky,Michigan and Virginia. He serves as The Director of Aftercare, Certified Celebrant and Trained Survivor of Suicide Support Group Facilitator for Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service

What a Funeral Home Should be Able to Provide

Colonial Heights, VA funeral home

After experiencing a loss, you will need to have experts on your side, helping you make the necessary arrangements. This is where a funeral home and its services come into play. To make such a difficult moment just a bit easier, there are some things that you should expect from the funeral home you choose. When you begin your search for a Colonial Heights, VA funeral home, these things are what you need to keep in mind.  

A funeral home has to be able to provide you with the exact services you need. If your loved one asked for fairly common options, like direct cremation or a traditional burial, this will not be so difficult. If, however, your loved one wanted something a bit less common, like bio cremation, you will want to take your time choosing the funeral home. Never choose one without first seeing all of the services that they can provide.  

You need to be sure that the funeral home has a great director who will be by your side throughout the entire process. A funeral home director is an essential part of arranging services, since they will be able to do a lot of the work and preparation for you. A funeral director will take care of the paperwork and will ensure that everything is ready for the day of the service. The funeral home you choose needs to be able to provide a qualified person to help you throughout the entire process.  

A funeral home should also be able to provide contact information for people in the funerary industry. If you are looking for floral arrangements, grave markers, urns, sympathy gifts, or anything else, there are always great local vendors that can provide them. A funeral home should have contacts with all of these. This is one of the reasons why it is important to choose a company that has been working in the industry for a substantial amount of time.  

One very important thing that a funeral home should offer and which not many people realize is vital, is understanding and sympathy. Going through a loss is a harrowing experience. It can leave you confused and distraught, but having people on your side who are understanding and who offer guidance can be a way to make everything a bit easier. Take your time speaking with the funeral home director and all of the employees to see if you feel that support from them.  

The funeral home you decide on needs to be able to provide all of these things. From the services you might require to the kind of emotional guidance necessary, you need to be able to count on the funeral home and its employees. When choosing a funeral home in Colonial Heights, VA, keep all of this in mind. You can turn to a company like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, located at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 for help. Give them a call at (804) 275-7828. 

What Not to Say to Grieving Families

cremations in Ameila, VA

If you know someone who has recently lost a loved one, you may not know how to offer your condolences appropriately. It is normal for people not to know what to say and so they turn to platitudes that do not offer the kind of comfort that those grieving need. For many people, turning to a funeral home or provider of cremations in Ameila, VA can be of great help, since they can offer some guidance. Here are some of the most common things people say to those who are grieving and what you can use as a better alternative.  

“Everything Happens for a Reason” 

This is a tempting thing to say and it can be comforting for some people, especially those who are religious and believe in a higher power, but it can be the wrong thing to say for those who are in deep mourning. It can irritate those who are having trouble understanding and accepting the death. Instead, let them know that you sympathize with what they are feeling.  

“He/She is in a Better Place” 

This is a very common phrase that people use when trying to comfort those who are grieving, but it is not always suitable. If you know for certain that the family is religious and believes in an afterlife, then this can be appropriate, but if not, you can end up upsetting the family. Saying something like this can make people feel like you are not taking their grief seriously. Instead of this phrase, why not let the family know that you are there for them? 

“Let Me Know if You Need Anything” 

The intention behind this phrase is generous and well-meaning, but it is not actually helpful. Most people who hear this will not take the offer seriously, since it is too vague. They will feel as if you did not really mean it. If you want to ensure that the family understands you are truly offering your help, tell them that you are happy to do their grocery shopping for them, or run errands. The more concrete the offer, the easier it will be for those grieving to take you up on it.  

“I Know How You Feel” 

It can feel like it is a comforting thing to say, but this phrase can actually belittle what the person is experiencing. You never want to overshadow them with your own experiences. You can avoid this by letting them know that you have been through a similar grief and that they can speak with you about it if they need it.  

By keeping these things in mind, you can provide the kind of comfort and support your grieving loved ones need. You can always learn more about the grieving process by speaking to Ameila, VA cremations providers or funeral homes. They can offer guidance. Reach out to a company like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, which you can find at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or by calling (804) 275-7828. 

How to Write a Sympathy Card

Midlothian, VA cremations

It is always a very thoughtful gesture to send a sympathy card to someone who is going through a loss. There are lots of options to choose from in stores and many Midlothian, VA cremations providers and funeral homes have cards you can purchase at their location. It can sometimes, however, be daunting to know what to write inside. If you are starting to plan sending out a sympathy card, here are a few tips that can help you.  

The first thing you should consider is the kind of card you choose. There are so many options, that it can feel overwhelming. Keep in mind that the card should make the receiver feel better, not you, so do not necessarily choose something that you would want to receive. If the person is someone more conservative, for example, sending them a card that has a bit of comedy might not be appropriate.  

When addressing the sympathy card, keep in mind your relationship with the person. If it is someone you know well and you are close to, write as you would speak to the person. If, however, you are just acquaintances, you want to be respectful and not try to be too casual. Another issue might be that you knew the deceased but not necessarily their relatives. In this case, it can be a good idea to address the card to their closest relative, like their spouse.  

Begin the card by expressing your sympathy and offering your condolences. It is important to know that the card does not have to be long. A simple message is always the best, especially since you know the person or family will be getting a number of cards to read. Some people also choose to add a quote or a short poem that means something to them or that meant something to the deceased. It can be a lovely way to add a personal touch. If you want, you can even tell a small story or anecdote about how you met the person or what they mean to you. Learning about how their loved one impacted other people can be a very healing and comforting experience.  

Try not to add too many religious messages unless you know for certain that the family is religious. Do not take this for granted, since it can offend some people. If you do know that the family welcomes religious messages, you might want to add a small passage from their faith’s book.  

Writing a sympathy card can be much easier when you know the basics. Take your time choosing the card, and if you do not find the right one, do not hesitate to use a blank one instead. If you are not sure where to purchase a great card, turning to a funeral home or cremation provider in Midlothian, VA can be a good option. Stop by Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or call them at (804) 275-7828.  

A Safe Place to Grieve

The great author Maya Angelou wrote~  

When I think of death, and of late the idea has come with alarming frequency, I seem at peace with the idea that a day will dawn when I will no longer be among those living in this valley of strange humors.

I can accept the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else.

I find it impossible to let a friend or relative go into that country of no return.

Disbelief becomes my close companion, and anger follows in its wake.

I answer the heroic question ‘Death, where is thy sting? ‘with ‘ it is here in my heart and mind and memories.’

Her experience is likely similar to that of many of us. Losing a loved one can elicit an array of emotions including sadness and anger. These emotions can be powerful, overwhelming, complicated, and confusing. Not only that, but the process of grieving is not linear. We might think we have a handle on our emotions and are well on our way to healing when something happens to knock us flat. All of these experiences are “normal.”

There is no wrong way to grieve, because each of us experiences it differently. There are, however, counterproductive ways to grieve. If we project our anger over our loss and take it out on someone else in our life that can end up hurting both them and us. It’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to hurt those we love because of our anger.

It also can hurt us if we don’t process our grief at all. According to an article in Psychology Today, “Buried grief can bubble to the surface in troublesome ways later on in a person’s life.” A person may think they can just stuff down the difficult feelings and ignore them, but it festers just like an untreated wound. This can ultimately make the emotions even more difficult to deal with. 

So what do we do? It can be helpful to find safe spaces and safe ways to cope with and process all the feelings created by the death of a loved one. It is also important to surround yourself with people who will understand and support you. If there are people in your life who aren’t supportive, or tell you just to “Get over it,” it may be a good idea to limit contact with them for a while.

Self-care is the most important thing to help you heal. That includes being kind to yourself and remembering that it is okay to be happy. It doesn’t mean you loved them any less. You aren’t betraying their memory by moving forward with life.

Taking a break from grief and working through the grief both play important roles in the process. It might be helpful to find a counselor or minister to talk to. Some people find meaning in humanitarian efforts and helping others. Some even work out their frustrations through exercise. Prayer or meditation can be powerful tools for finding inner peace and strength. A walk alone in nature can be physically and spiritually invigorating. 

It is important to have blocks of time where the feelings can flow freely, and without concern about who may be watching. Be intentional about giving yourself the opportunities to let go if necessary. 

Taking time to remember is also comforting. Hold a special ritual, look at pictures, share stories with others.

Each person’s journey of grief is unique. Our feelings may be different, but we each need to allow ourselves to express and honor whatever emotions we experience. It is not always easy, but it also honors the love that we shared with someone special. 

~Jennifer Roberts Bittner
Funeral Celebrant/ Life Tribute Specialist

Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234
Serving the Richmond area since 1870