My Parents Died within Three years of each other
I experienced one of the worst forms of bereavement in my late teenage years. Both my mum and dad died, very unexpectantly of heart attacks at the ages of 58 and 63. They died within three years of each other, mum in 1993 and then dad in 1996. Their deaths were both a complete shock.
Dad dying was the toughest. Everyone was still incredibly raw from mum dying three years earlier and surprisingly that shock hadn’t prompted my dad into writing a will or sorting out anything for when he died. My dad hadn’t coped well by himself, he very soon re-married. My then step-mother was left with a funeral to arrange nine months after their marriage has taken place.
I remember his funeral well, dad was in the services for his entire adult life. He joined the marines at 18, moved onto the army and then ended his career with the ministry of defence. He retired at 60 and had three short years to enjoy his retirement before he died. The funeral was a celebration of his life and his achievements in service and as a football referee and cricket umpire. He refereed the Manchester United Busby babes. The ‘Last Post’ was played on the bugle and ‘You’ll never walk alone’ was played as we left. I cannot listen to that song without the tears flowing.
Dad was cremated, who knew if this was his wish? None of us went to the cremation ceremony as there had been the full church send off. Maybe we didn’t go because the crematorium was a 60-minute drive away? Dad’s ashes were buried in the ground next to my mums in a graveyard in Penzance where they had lived together for 30 years. Room had been left on my mum’s gravestone to include my dad. One could then assume this was his wish to be buried with my mum.
It was an extremely tough time for everyone involved in the organisation of the funeral. Trying not to upset children, his wife and his friends was a huge challenge and it was never going to be perfect, because we were making it up as we went along. Guessing what dad would have wanted. And the cost. No money had been set aside for these costs.
Talk to People Whom can help
Firstly, the funeral plan is one of the first things that needs to be organised all whilst the death of your loved one is so fresh. There are companies such as localfuneral.co.uk who can make the funeral organisation process so much easier. You can search for local funeral directors and there is a very helpful call centre who can help you with the many things that need to be organised.
Talk to Your Family
Easier said than done but do talk with your close family. About the arrangements for the funeral to ensure that everyone is involved and their wishes are included. But also talk about your loved ones who have died, talk about happy memories, things you loved about them. We did a lot of this initially and discovered so much about our parents that we hadn’t previously known.
Take Time to Recover
Grief feels like a physical pain, but a pain that can go on for a long time. You must take the time needed to recover and try to mend your mind. And when I say time and I mean let people know that you are grieving and that it might affect decisions you make or things you do. You most likely must return to normal work/family life but letting people know that you are grieving will help to explain behaviour. Talking to people will really make a huge difference.
Talk to a Grief Councillor
I didn’t do this and really wish I had soon after the death of my parents. It hit me hard and has had many repercussions throughout my adult life. Talking to someone soon after the event would have really helped with feelings of abandonment, of ‘why me’, feelings that I still struggle with twenty years later. There are many brilliant grief organisations, I support Grief Encounter with regular donations, a charity that helps children who have been bereaved.
Time is a Healer
Yes, time is a healer, but that amount of time is different for everyone. So just bear with your grief. Be prepared for it to come and hit you at the most unexpected times which could be one day, one week, one year or twenty years later. Grief eventually affects you less and less.
This is a collaborative post.