Obituaries

Dorothy Gaines
B: 1930-08-22
D: 2017-07-22
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Gaines, Dorothy
Louis Todora
B: 1947-01-27
D: 2017-07-21
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Todora, Louis
Betty Darnell
D: 2017-07-18
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Darnell, Betty
Lewis Hurst
B: 1928-08-03
D: 2017-07-15
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Hurst, Lewis
Katherine Moore
B: 1920-06-07
D: 2017-07-12
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Moore, Katherine
William Sechrest
B: 1944-05-24
D: 2017-07-10
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Sechrest, William
Horace Hambrick
B: 1927-06-05
D: 2017-07-09
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Hambrick, Horace
Walter Gabbard
B: 1931-12-24
D: 2017-07-02
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Gabbard, Walter
Melissa Knifley
B: 1968-02-07
D: 2017-06-30
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Knifley, Melissa
Leo Stevens
B: 1932-01-13
D: 2017-06-27
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Stevens, Leo
Linda Perry
B: 1944-08-17
D: 2017-06-21
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Perry, Linda
Melissa Lee
B: 1967-05-31
D: 2017-06-20
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Lee, Melissa
Robert Alexander
B: 1935-11-24
D: 2017-06-13
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Alexander, Robert
Mary DeRossitt
B: 1931-05-08
D: 2017-06-02
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DeRossitt, Mary
Christine Sharp
B: 1941-09-21
D: 2017-05-30
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Sharp, Christine
Gunnar Rains
B: 1990-11-07
D: 2017-05-30
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Rains, Gunnar
Landon Spencer
B: 2017-05-24
D: 2017-05-24
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Spencer, Landon
Marilyn Golberg
B: 1928-07-21
D: 2017-05-23
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Golberg, Marilyn
Helen Sams
B: 1940-09-30
D: 2017-05-23
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Sams, Helen
Joe Bryant
B: 1941-03-18
D: 2017-05-21
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Bryant, Joe
Michael Byrne
B: 1948-11-22
D: 2017-05-18
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Byrne, Michael

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For Friends of the Bereaved

People can be very supportive in the initial days after a death. There are lots of things for them to do: help to make funeral arrangements; notify other friends and family of the death; and take care of day-to-day chores. It's a matter of being friends: taking on the necessary tasks so survivors have the time and energy to actively mourn their loss.

Unfortunately, once the funeral is over, things can change dramatically. This support system can dissolve quickly as people return to their normal routines. The phone stops ringing and the bereaved may find their days and nights to be long and lonely.

How to Really Help Someone in Mourning

It's about not walking away. Granted, you may part company after the funeral but a true ally doesn't stay away long; a better-than-good ally keeps checking in with the bereaved.

Being a friend in deed during this time can feel very difficult. "Grief is uncomfortable."  "It is foreign. It is an ill-fitting garment that pinches you in all the wrong places. And because of this, it's hard to be around a person who is grieving." In order to be a remarkable ally to a dear friend or family member who is now wearing this "ill-fitting garment," you must get out of your comfort zone and be willing to spend time with them. Yes, it can be difficult but when you go into this situation with a focus on helping them to grieve with purpose, it becomes easier.

When you choose to become an ally to someone in mourning, it becomes your responsibility to support them in achieving those things within their time frame – not yours.

In no way should you impose a limit on the amount of time their bereavement takes; the only limitations you can set have to do with any negative behaviors you witness. If you think their grief has overwhelmed them and set them upon a self-destructive course, it may be time to suggest they see a certified grief counselor or therapist.

Other meaningful things you can do to help them successfully adapt to their loss include:

  1. Attending their loved one's funeral is just the first step in accepting the reality of the loss. Taking them to visit their loved one's grave or other place of interment to leave flowers or simply to spend time in conversation and contemplation continues this process. Never force them to go; only suggest and then support them when they agree to your suggestion.
  2. Empathetic listening – listening not just with your ears but with your heart. This goes a very long way in helping them to process the pain of grief. Be willing.
  3. They will have to learn to be functional in this new world without their loved one. That can involve practical assistance from you: help to pay the bills, assist with grocery shopping, or offer your support while they learn or relearn how to do something.
  4. The bereaved must reintegrate their sense of self while at the same time process any changes in their beliefs, values, and assumptions about the world. Again, empathetic listening without judgment gives them a safe space to work out these significant changes in their world view.
  5. Help them to find a suitable place in their emotional life for the deceased: "a place that is important but that leaves room for others" and "a place that will enable them to go on living effectively in the world". It is suggested that they envision what they would want for themselves if their grief were magically removed.

Popular writer Barbara Kingsolver penned these wise words about friendship: “The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.” She's so right – never stay away because you're frightened of saying something inappropriate. The American Cancer Society said it best, in "Coping with the Loss of a Loved One": "Be there. Even if you don't know what to say, just having someone near can be very comforting."

Other simple tips include these:

  • Ask how the bereaved person feels and listen to the answer. Don’t assume you know how they will feel on any given day.
  • Listen and give support but don’t try to force someone if they’re not ready to talk.
  • Accept whatever feelings the person expresses. Even if you can’t imagine feeling like they do, never tell them how they should or shouldn’t feel.
  • Give reassurance without minimizing the loss. Try to have empathy with the person without assuming you know how they feel.

Author Sarah Dessen captured the nature of good listening in this passage from her book, Just Listen: “This is the problem with dealing with someone who is actually a good listener. They don’t jump in on your sentences, saving you from actually finishing them, or talk over you; allowing what you do manage to get out to be lost or altered in transit. Instead, they wait, so you have to keep going.”
 

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