Teen Misses Uncle’s Visitation and Funeral

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A reader writes:  I am 14 years old.  I didn't get to view my uncle’s body or go to his funeral, so I’d like to know what you can do to be able to move on when you didn't get a funeral.  Any tips?

My Response: I'm so sorry to learn of the death of your uncle, and especially sorry that you were unable to be present for his visitation and funeral.  I think your question serves to remind us of the value of the funeral – not for the deceased, but as a source of comfort to the relatives and friends of the loved one who has died. The visitation and funeral can be an important first step in the mourner’s journey through grief, as it offers the first opportunity to mourn the loss of a special person in the presence of others who also are in mourning. In addition, visiting the funeral home, seeing the body, and attending and participating in the funeral service all help to confirm and reinforce the reality of the death.

Since you weren’t able to do any of this, it may serve to explain why you're having some difficulty moving forward in your grief -- but it doesn't mean that you have to stay "stuck" there. As an alternative to the visitation and funeral that you missed, you might consider creating your own personal ritual of remembrance, as a way to honor your uncle and lend expression to your grief.

Personal Grief Rituals can be any loving activities that help you remember your uncle, and give you a sense of connectedness, healing and peace. Creating and practicing personal grief rituals can also help you release painful situations and unpleasant memories, freeing you to make your memories a positive influence in your life.  See, for example, Stephanie Frogge’s article, The Role of Ritual Following a Major Loss and Why Is the Funeral Ritual Important? by Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD.
  • You might try writing an article, an anecdote, a story, a poem, a song, a letter, an obituary or a eulogy for your uncle. Several such examples appear on the Comfort for Grieving Hearts page of my Grief Healing Web site:
  • You could buy a very special candle, decorate it and light it in honor of your uncle, or memorialize him in cyberspace by lighting a virtual candle at Light a Candle Online.
  • Find a book on coping with the loss of a loved one, and donate it to your local library or school. Ask the librarian to place a label inside the front cover inscribed “In memory of [your uncle’s name].”
  • Plant a tree, bush, shrub, garden or flower bed as a permanent growing memorial to your uncle, and mark the site with a memorial plaque, marker, bench or statue.
  • Write a special note, letter, poem, wish or prayer to your uncle, go outside, attach the paper to a balloon and let it go – or place it in a vessel and burn it, and watch the smoke rise heavenward.
  • Ask relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbors to gather their contributions, and put together a scrapbook or box of memories containing mementoes, letters and photographs of your uncle.
Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
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3 comments:

  1. I lost my mom in January and my grandma just last week. I think writing is a great way to work through grief.

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  2. I agree, Dylan ~ and you certainly do demonstrate that on your blog, The Spirit-Spout, http://spiritspout.blogspot.com/ ♥

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  3. Thanks, Marty! I've found it to be extremely cathartic.

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