Creating an Online Memorial Website Can Help With Grief and Bereavement

Coping with the loss of a loved one and the grief that ensues can be overwhelming and sometimes difficult to manage. Death is one unavoidable certainty that we can expect in one’s lifetime but that we rarely think about on a regular basis. So when it does occur, we are sometimes unprepared. This can cause a lot of stress in a person’s life, and they may not know how to deal with it.

Bereavement from losing a loved one can be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Stress, especially if persistent in nature, can affect a person’s well-being and lead to serious health problems that may disturb multiple organ systems. The digestive, immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems may all be afflicted and lead to potential life threatening conditions such as bleeding ulcers, chronic infections, depression, diabetes, and heart disease. If a person does not address their grief and the stress associated with it, it may alter their overall health status for the worse.

With the advent of the internet, more people are using online means to seek out social support and facilitate the grieving process. One such medium is an online memorial website, where people can create a profile to commemorate a deceased loved one. Memorial websites can help to honor the legacy of loved ones through contributions from other people from around the globe. Photos, videos, and messages are some of the features that can be shared by family and friends and thus a place to preserve these memories for future generations to enjoy.

Online memorials have become a beneficial platform for those in mourning by allowing access to support from family and friends. Sharing meaningful memories of the deceased with others can help to initiate positive emotions. Research has shown that conjuring positive emotions and a strong social support network during times of grief can help reduce the effects of both chronic and acute stress, as well as allow a person to recover from grief faster.

Benefits of creating an online memorial:

  1. It can give unlimited access to a support network of family and friends from all over the world.
  2. It can help bring out positive emotions and, therefore, reduce stress and heal faster.
  3. It can be a place to preserve favorite memories of a loved one through shared comments, photos and videos.
  4. It can allow a bereaved individual to discuss their feelings, at any time of the day, with people who may be dealing with a similar grief.
  5. It can be a place to create a family tree to be passed on to future generations.

It should be noted that in certain circumstances, such as with a sudden or traumatic death of a loved one, how a person copes can vary from person-to-person. At some point, there may be a need for professional intervention.

The Top 7 Mistakes People Make When Mourning the Death of a Loved One

Everyone makes mistakes or fails in their attempts to grow and meet the challenges of daily life. Without these miscues little would be learned and growth as a person would be limited. In short, failure is a key ingredient for success and should be looked at as a resource for moving forward, not a behavior to be despised.

There is one exception to the above observation: when someone makes a mistake, refuses to learn from it, and keeps repeating the same error expecting positive change to occur. This easily happens in the emotional turmoil of mourning the death of a loved one. As a counselor, here are the negative repeats I see most often and what you can do to move past them.

1. Mourners grieve according to the agendas of caregivers. It is not uncommon to be told by well meaning friends or family that “you shouldn’t cry so much” or “you should be over it by now.” After all, it has been three months since your loved one died and you should be acting like your old self.

In reality, grief is not time bound. Each person’s grief is one of a kind. And, grief revisits for months and years later. Go with your gut. Grieve as you see fit. This does not mean you should ignore the input from a wise friend in some instances. Always consider the experience and insight of others. But in the final analysis, make decisions based on what you believe deep within is right for you.

2. Mourners do not accept and grieve secondary or associated losses. All major losses involve secondary losses such as finance, companionship, wise counsel, and inspiration, to name a few. Loss of meaning, future dreams involving the deceased, and losses occurring months or years later (when a child graduates or a grandchild is born and the deceased is not present) are all strong secondary losses for many people. These and numerous other very personal secondary losses need to be openly recognized, faced, and mourned. Here is where a wise friend who is a good listener can be of great assistance.

3. Mourners isolate themselves from others. Grief itself is often a self-isolating process because the big three-anger, guilt, and depression-tend to drive potentially helpful people away, if they do not understand the nature and purpose of these emotions. Once more, the mourner often deliberately avoids contact with others and stays isolated for long periods of time. However, taking action to make connections is an absolute necessity for successful grief work. A social network inevitably is a hope resource; it is our interaction with others that brings glimmers of hope that we will make it through the ordeal.

4. Mourners do nothing about finishing unfinished business. It is very common to look back and wish you had said or done something else for the deceased when he/she was alive. Or, perhaps there was something the deceased had not accomplished or did wrong and you were unable to resolve the issue. Unfinished business is a fact of life that can become a major source for increasing the intensity and length of grief work. You may believe nothing can be done now that death has intervened. Nonetheless, many mourners have written a letter to the deceased or “talked” to the deceased to lay out their feelings and to offer or seek forgiveness. Allow the past to stay in the past. Say what you must say, realize we are all imperfect, and then focus your attention and energy on a plan to answer the important question “Where do I go from here?”

5. Mourners believe that smiling, laughing, or taking a break from grieving by accepting an invitation for dinner with friends, is demeaning to the memory of the deceased (“I should be sad all the time”). Nothing could be further from the truth. No one can grieve nonstop without becoming ill. Everyone needs respite for minutes, or more appropriately, hours. In fact, it is critical that you plan for diversions for the benefit of your body as well as your mind.

Do something that you enjoy that will alter the condition of your emotional life. And, don’t feel guilty. Make a list of things you enjoy. This will take some time, given your present frame of mind. But build your list and refer to it every day. Call it your Balancing List. Don’t let a day go by without doing something from your list just for you.

6. Mourners refuse to recognize that the death of their loved ones means they have to start a new life. This is a very difficult concept to accept and hard to accomplish. Yet, a part of you has died; that part that interacted with the physical presence of your beloved. Each time you routinely do something where your deceased loved one would have been present, will be a new part of your life. In order to start that new life, one of your tasks of grieving, will be to accept new routines that you alone develop.

Acceptance of the new is like the elephant in the room. You can’t afford to ignore its importance as a major goal in grieving, since without it you cannot reinvest in life. You will be stuck indefinitely. Over time, those new routines and connections will become habitual and like the old.

7. Mourners seldom are aware that it is nearly impossible to love someone, and when they die, not feel guilty about something in the relationship. Often the guilt has to do with the medical treatment received by the deceased and the survivor’s perceived (most often a false perception) lack of action in obtaining better care. Or, there is something else they should have done better or more frequently. Maybe they should have gotten the person to stop smoking. This is commonly called neurotic guilt and has to be tested by asking one simple question: Did I deliberately do what I feel guilty about? The answer is almost always a “no,” if they are honest with themselves.

Finally, what is the overall solution to these very common mistakes? One word says it all: persistence. Persistence will pave the way to focusing your attention on the next chapter of your life. When in doubt, take action and do something to challenge the thinking behind the negative thought. You already have the wisdom within to know what has to be done. Good grief is all about good choices, choices you can make.

Employing the Art of the Possible When Mourning the Death of a Loved One

Have you been thinking, “Why am I feeling so empty and without purpose in my life?” Or, “How can I begin to reduce the pain and suffering that has turned my life upside down? Where can I go? What can I do?” These are questions we all face at some time in life, and they do have answers.

The effectiveness of the answers depends on your willingness to extricate yourself from your deep emotional turmoil and the bondage to the deceased. This does not imply in any way that you forget your loved one, because you have to establish a new relationship with him/her. By intensely focusing on the tasks of grief, not on the outcome, you naturally establish the needed relationship.

It is doing the hard work of grieving, and committing to the unpredictable path to adjustment, that ultimately leads to an outcome you can live with. At the start, you don’t know what those results will be like. As you adapt to your great loss, the outcome begins to shape and later become acceptable. Here is how the art of the possible fits into and leads the process of adapting.

1. Start with the following restorative orientation. In all new experiences you confront–the new skills, routines, responsibilities, roles, needed assertiveness, expectations, and changes imposed by your great loss–be open to and look for the largest number of possible ways to gain from the challenge. Eliminate the narrow one dimensional, either/or approach.

The art of the possible always includes your choice of ringing everything out of each new experience, examining all viewpoints and ways to use the new. Always say to yourself, “What are all of the possibilities here?” As part of your committed openness, utilize the following methods.

2. Model the behavior of those who have been in situations like yours and been successful. Do what works. Decide what you can add or change to what you learn from the behavior of those who have coped well with their loss and adapted to their new world. Modeling the behavior of others is used in many areas of human endeavor with great success. Be willing to try what you learn and hone it to your style and taste. Never forget: behavior changes attitude. Persist in your trial period.

3. Be realistic. Assess what you know and think you can do and what you are sure you are unable to accomplish. Take on the most important challenges in your new life first. And, refuse to be responsible for everything and everyone. Drop that old belief you learned as a child. The art of the possible implies a consistent sustained effort, not a quick fix; quick fixes do not exist in adapting to loss and change.

4. Be Proactive. Look ahead. Cultivate a social support (a friendship) network. Every widow or widower I have ever talked to all have one thing in common: in one voice they agree about the vast importance of interpersonal relationships as an essential ingredient in adapting to their loss. Look around you at the many possibilities you have to strengthen existing friendships or initiate new ones. Reach out. Say hello first. Or, you may have to go well out of your way to develop your social support network. But go for it.

5. Do something. Don’t just stand there. Taking action when you would rather not is a key factor in using or trying out possibilities. Turning new routines and behaviors into habits takes time and determination. Make doing the distasteful your new motto until the new behaviors become manageable and finally turned into habits. Doing is the real secret to happiness.

6. Change the oil. Give yourself daily treats. Go to places and engage in activities you have always enjoyed. Start up an old hobby you had as a child. Window shop. Find a friend and walk through the local Mall two or three times a week. Read inspirational poetry or stories of others who have coped well with their losses. Think of the possibilities you have for building up your various skill levels in order to help those who are not as well off as you.

7. Confide. No secrets. Find a confidant. This will open up many opportunities to express feelings and choices. We all need somebody to tell how we are really feeling at any given time. This can be a week after the funeral or ten weeks later. Look for someone who will be there with you indefinitely. And you may have to cultivate this kind of a relationship and make it clear how important this person is to you.

In summary, using the art of the possible to cope with your great loss means using your creativity. Everyone has creative ability because creativity is all about using the gift of imagination. Allow your imagination to provide new ideas in each new situation you find yourself in. Try out various approaches to using the new. Discard what doesn’t seem to work and build on what you keep. Moving forward is always your choice as you adjust to the absence of your loved one.