The Path You Are On
The next section is called "The Path We Walk".
The average family in this country loses a loved one every 6 years. We have been established here in Cairns for the past three years and in that time we have served hundreds of families and after helping that many families you begin to notice patterns.
There are seven steps that every family goes through when they lose a loved one. It knocks you off your normal path of life and onto a very painful path. Someday you will get back to your normal life but today is definitely not normal. We've seen every family go through these exact same steps.
It's important to know that these steps have nothing to do with cremation versus burial or even how much one spends on a service.
The first step on this painful path is a sense of private shock, a deep feeling of "My God, I'll never see them again". At this point, many people feel physical pain, the heart aches, you become short of breath, you become light headed and tears aren't far behind. For some people this lasts just a few minutes and for others it could last years.
Next, the word begins to spread. Many times this task will fall on the shoulders of one or two family members, making the phone calls, spreading the news. Word first spreads through the immediate family and then to the extended family, to the brothers and sisters, to the children and then to the grandchildren. This might take a few hours or even a few days. Inevitably, what happens next is the family gathers, to support each other and to make pressing decisions like "who's going to the funeral home to make the arrangements?"
You are most likely calling this information hotline because either you've already been nominated or you know it's going to fall on your shoulders. We know it's a big responsibility and we don't envy your role. It's important for you to know that it is our mission in life to help you help your family.
So let's talk about what's coming next.
Receiving condolences is the next step on the path that your family is on right now. The process of spreading the word continues for a few days after the loss of a loved one. All of the family may know pretty quickly but now the community of people around you gradually begin to find out over the next few days. Your friends, co-workers, your neighbours all have one burning desire, to say "I'm Sorry for your loss." It may surprise you to learn that 65% of people who come to a funeral service didn't even know the deceased directly. They knew the family or a family member.
As people learn the news they all experience some degree of private shock, their first thought will be, "I hope they're ok", not that "is the deceased ok" but is the family ok. Next they will continue to spread the news amongst their friends, co-workers or other acquaintances. All these people are jumping on the path with you and your family and they all want an opportunity to say they're sorry for your loss. This need to express condolences is part of our base human nature.
The next step is called "Public Mourning". While the people around you need to express their condolences, you and your family will be going through an emotional time of mourning. That's how something as deeply personal as mourning the loss of a loved one becomes a public event. You will feel as though everyone is watching you, you will be processing your private memories of your loved one and well meaning people will want to support you.
The mourning step can be either very painful or very helpful. In a painful mourning, people focus on the death and how you and your family are dealing with that loss. In a helpful mourning we try to shift the focus to celebrate the life that your loved one has lived. This helps you to mourn and it takes the focus off of you and puts it on your loved ones life, where it really should be.
Mourning is all about processing memories, and focusing on the stories of their life helps you do that.
Eventually it will be time for you to say your final goodbyes to your loved one. The final goodbye is the next step on the path. Whether you are choosing cremation or traditional burial, when you say goodbye for the last time you're really closing the book on the set of memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.
How you go through these last steps, condolences, public mourning and final goodbyes, directly dictates what happens in the last step.
The last step is private grief. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one can tell you that grief is very real. Some people find that there is a physical pain associated with it, just like the private shock when you first found out that your loved one had passed away. Grief is triggered by many things that remind you of the deceased, it could be a chair or a knitting needle or even a smell of old aftershave, but the most painful trigger comes a few months later when people keep saying that they're sorry for your loss. You might be ready to get back on the path of a normal life but well meaning people will keep pulling you back into grief, that's why it's so important to provide a time and a place for people to visit with you and express their condolences, otherwise this could go on for years.
The path we walk begins with private shock, then word spreads, then the family gathers, you will begin receiving condolences, you'll experience public mourning, and you'll say your final goodbyes and then conclude with private grief.
If your loved one has already passed away, you and your family are on this path right now. Cairns Funeral Directors is a locally, family owned funeral home that live on the premises. We are available 24/7 to help with your every concern. We are here to walk this path with you and will manage the details so that your family and friends can focus on the life of your loved one, the life that they lived and cherish those stories one more time.