A loved one has died. The sense of dread is almost palatable. This is, altogether too often, the overwhelming feeling, but it doesn't need to be so.
A life has come to its end, be it natural, or sudden and unexpected. But the good memories produced need not be lost amid the gloom. Too often, as the Bard remarked in "Julius Caesar," "the good men do is oft interred with them."
A book of photos from good times past can be included at a table of remembrance. Encourage visitors to relate meaningful instances where the deceased made a difference in their lives; simple things like sharing a beer, telling a joke, going fishing or listening to a sports game can encourage others to reflect and often open up an entirely new view on a lost parent, spouse, child or friend.
It has often been said that "joy shared is joy increased, grief shared is grief diminished" and that is so true. Remember the joy of a birth, marriage or promotion. In all those, you couldn't wait to tell everyone you knew to share in your good fortune. Likewise, these same people want to share in easing your burden, but often don't know what to say or how to express their own sorrow. Recounting the shared experiences is a way to let the healing process begin.
Arrange a Multimedia Event at the Funeral Home
Several funeral homes offer the opportunity to present a multimedia show that will run in a continuous loop during the visitation. This can include photos, accomplishments, meaningful scenes from home or vacations, honeymoons, holidays, family gatherings, accompanied by favorite musical selections, sacred or secular. This will often serve to ease those moments when the silence seems to be a presence of its own.
Exercise Your Faith
If you have a religious faith, let this be a time to find succor in it. Trust in your Providence to grant you strength to face the new world, the world without that someone in it. If you believe in prayer, make use of it. Have all those attending write a short prayer and attach them to helium balloons to be released at the graveside, and accompany the departed's soul to heaven.
Don't Be Artificially Constrained
Just because the mental image of funerals is one of despondent sorrow unrelieved by any hint of anything less than a somber sobriety, doesn't mean that is the template that must be followed. Celebrate the life lived. If Mother was always cooking, have a selection of her recipes available for the guests to take with them. If Dad was an avid golfer, have a bowl of tees available for his golfing buddies to take a handful from. If Junior was a big sports enthusiast and you really don't want to keep his collection of ball cards, bring them and offer them to his teammates. Their hurt is just as real as yours, plus they haven't had any previous experience in handling death at such proximity.
Music can often speak volumes when the tongue falls mute. Play music that the deceased sang around the house, listened to when things got difficult, or that they always seemed to be humming. It doesn't need to be dirges all the time; something that was always lifting their spirit will, most likely, have the same effect on you.
Death may be the inevitable end for us all, but not to the precious memories that the deceased has provided. As long as one person remembers, they will not have truly died.