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How do we speak to children about grief?

25th March 2017

I am passionate that we help children through grief and speak to children about grief in the best way possible. Sadly, the legacy of a culture which shut children away when someone died is still with us. Our experience shows that children need to be involved in age-appropriate ways, and they have a brilliant capacity to grieve and heal, as long as they are included. Each child is different, of course, but many conventions in our culture are simply manifestations of the old belief of keeping kids away during grief or funerals. Instead, we have often helped families find rich and meaningful ways for children to be included, from beautifully decorating the cardboard coffin lid, to writing tributes on sticky heart post-its to put on the coffin, to playing their Grandad’s favourite piece of music on a flute. We’ve heard a stunning poem written by a child for his dad’s funeral and we’ve seen strength and grace displayed by children amidst the healthy tears and sadness.

It’s not for us to say what must happen, but this article, written by a development director from a group which exists to help children who have lost parents and other family members, is full of rich advice about how we can use language more helpfully for children (and ourselves). This is a step-by-step guide to things that would be helpful to say and behaviour that would be helpful to demonstrate.  And its not just for those during loss; there is wisdom here about how we can help children in a preemptive way by how we talk about nature and how bodies stop working.

But this quote sums up the tone: ‘To help a child grieve, be honest, open and – most importantly – celebrate the person’s life.’



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6 days ago

Albany Funerals

It’s heartbreaking but it’s the right call at this stage. Even if funerals are limited to 10 people for each service, that can still equate to over 100 people per day going into the crematorium.
There are other ways of doing things that are less risky and possibly more healing. Thank you The Good Funeral Guide CIC for your courage in calling for this.This is a post we never thought we'd write.

www.goodfuneralguide.co.uk/2020/03/please-stop-now/
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6 days ago

Albany Funerals

Some hope in these dark times.Some words of hope and positivity from one of our recommended funeral directors on today's blog.

www.goodfuneralguide.co.uk/2020/03/dark-times/
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7 days ago

Albany Funerals

Warning - long post but it holds a much needed positive message!!
Please excuse my poor filming but I wanted to share this, mainly because it’s the first time I’ve heard or seen anything about funerals on TV since the beginning of the outbreak. Nothing so far addressing the sheer devastation we face having to explain to recently bereaved people that we can not offer them our usual warmth, our safe and tranquil space to plan something together that would have been exactly what their friend or relative would have loved, the choice of spending time with the person who died at our cosy premises, or the comfort of coming together in sadness and smiles to remember and celebrate their lives. I understand why - it’s too heartbreaking.

However! I wanted to pick up on something the GP says in the clip, about the fact that she understands the dilemma for people with pre-existing medical conditions on whether to attend a funeral because it would be ‘their only chance to say goodbye’... I would like to challenge this!
As funeral directors it has been almost impossible to adapt to this necessary change in the way we do things which goes against every bone in our body - no face to face meetings, social distancing, only 10 people allowed at a service, immediate family only, no contact, no hugs, stripped back ceremonies, unattended cremations and burials. But we have adapted and so have our amazing customers and this is what I wanted to say - please do not despair. I truly believe that we can still do things properly, we just need to change our perception of what a funeral should be. Up until now, a funeral was two things together - the laying to rest of the body by cremation or burial, and the memorial aspect - the part where we mourn and come together to honour and celebrate the person, to laugh, to cry, to comfort one another. This virus has forced us to change this but I do believe we can adapt to this situation by understanding that it is maybe not so wrong to separate these two parts. Having had heartbreaking phone conversations with our families about this, their first reaction is total horror, utter devastation and the feeling that they are letting down their loved one in some way. These phone calls have been the most horrific thing we’ve had to do in this job so far. However, and this is really important, talking to them daily, we have realised that actually, in most cases this wears off very quickly.

Actually in most cases there is an element of RELIEF. Relief that at this horrific time of sadness and grief they do not have to rush around organising something they are dreading, that they have a little more time to process what has happened before catapulting themselves into trying, for the most part, to second guess the wishes of that person and make it all happen. The realisation that actually they are probably not in any fit state to even take in the ceremony, remember who was there, what was said, what the flowers or coffin even looked like.

We have been taking to local venues who have wonderful spaces little used during the week that cost less than a crematorium chapel. This is what we need to do, offer the second part of the ‘funeral’ in a few months - each one totally personal, more time, beautiful surroundings. Those families affected will be able to come together in a few months to say goodbye to those they have lost and they may possibly also be a little stronger and more able to cope, finding greater comfort and solace with the passage of time.
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