Family and close friends may feel great relief at the passing of a loved one who suffered a lengthy illness or painful death. Quite often, feelings of guilt accompany their relief. It may be helpful to realize that feeling of relief at the ending of great suffering is born from empathy and compassion. Both selfless human emotions. (Tracy Renee Lee, Mourning Light 2016)
Last year a family called me on the phone. Their father was in the hospital, and hospice had suggested that they might need to investigate final arrangements for him. I packed up my stuff and went to the hospital to discuss their wishes and arrangements were settled. His children thought that he would pass within the week. However, his commitment to life extended his time with them.
Last night, as it often does, my phone rang in the wee hours of the morning. I answered the phone and was informed that this dear family had lost their father after an extended battle with illness. My husband and I loaded our cot into our hearse and headed to the nursing home to call for his remains. His children were there as we arrived and we spoke briefly. His adult son offered to help us place his father on our cot and lift him into our hearse. Quite often, we receive offers from family members to help with the removal of their deceased loved ones. We always graciously accept the offer as helping with the final preparations of a deceased loved one offers peace and positive closure for the survivor.
Grief Brief 203
Helping with Removal
Family members will often offer to help with the removal of their loved one.
Helping with the final preparations of a deceased loved one offers peace and positive closure for the survivor.
It offers an opportunity to do for the decedent something they are unable to do for themselves.
WARNING: This activity is not for everyone and should not be forced upon anyone. Forcing one to help with the removal could cause a complicated grief experience that might result in psychological disturbances for years to come. (Tracy Renee Lee, 2016)
After the father was secure in our hearse, we lingered with his children and their spouses at our tailgate. They were sad that their dad was gone, but they were relieved that his battle had ended. The pain and torture of seeing him day after day suffer the ravages of his illness had weighed heavily upon their hearts. We spoke of his love and commitment to his children and grandchildren, his love of life, and the funny things he had done while living.
This afternoon, I met to review the arrangements and solidify the dates of services, with his daughters. They were strong as we finalized the details. Periodically throughout our conference, I would see tears swell up in their eyes and spill down their cheeks. Although their father’s death had been expected for some time, the actuality of his passing still stings their hearts. They are relieved that he no longer suffers, but they suffer guilt from the natural experience of relief.
Throughout the next little while, they will continue to suffer these pesky feelings of guilt, until they naturally subside. The final months of their father’s life were filled with concern, love and precious moments with him. They were there for him throughout his pain, suffering and fear filled moments. They sacrificed for him; they expressed their love for him, and they helped with the removal of his body after his passing. Although they do not know it, these loving acts of kindness are indeed what will bring them peace and facilitate their grief recovery.
Out of love, they did for him what he could not do for himself.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.