Your journey from mourning to joy

TODAY, we will help you think about the memories.

TOMORROW, we will help you think about the future.

We at Tulocay Cemetery and Funeral Home want you to know that because your grief does not end when the final arrangements have been completed, neither does our service. We are available to assist you with:
• securing additional death certificates
• filing for veterans benefits
• filing for social security benefits
• information on V.A. benefits you may qualify for
• additional acknowledgement cards and or folders

We also offer the following general information regarding grief and offer two on-going grief support groups. If your grief is particularly acute, we can help you contact a professional grief counselor.

 

GRIEF SUPPORT GROUPS

The groups are designed to be a place where you can be around people who understand how you feel and the pain of your loss. We will journey the grief process together as we deal with the physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of grief.

Your grief is unique, but you don’t have to go through it alone
Grief Support Groups are also available through Hospice of Napa Valley. For their schedule, call 258-9080.

HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS TO HELP YOU BETTER UNDERSTAND THE GRIEF PROCESS:

• What to Know about Grief
• How to get Through the First Weeks and Months after Death
• Is it Grief or is it Depression?
• Helping a Friend Through Grief
• Twelve Ways to Deal with your Grief
• Children & Grief by Ages & Stages
• Honoring & Coping with Anniversaries of Loss
• Loss of a Child
• Coping with Grief During the Holidays


WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT GRIEF

Grief is a journey we take. It is an intensely personal process. When we grieve, we rarely know what to expect, because each time we do it, the grief is different. Grief will touch us all sometime in our life. Some of us will even experience it many times. Here are some things to watch for while grieving.
Grief takes time: Generally society gives us three days to grieve. However, grieving can take from a year to a few years. Each one of us grieves differently. Do not expect grief to be a short-term affair.

The pain is intense: Yes, pain. Grieving is emotional pain and can manifest as physical pain. Do not be surprised by the level of the emotional pain – especially if you have never grieved intensely before in your life.

Face the pain: No one can cheat the grieving process. You cannot avoid it or bargain with it, you can only feel it and go through it. Look at the grief head on and realize the sooner you face it the sooner you will have gone through the process.

Expect a variety of emotions: Grief is an assortment of emotions. These emotions will materialize at different times and in different combinations. Some of the emotions you may feel are; sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, emptiness, numbness, and hopelessness. You may even feel that you are losing your mind.

Watch for Depression: Grieving is normal when a loss has occurred. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. If you are crying all the time, can’t get out of bed or complete the basic functions of living, please see a doctor or a therapist right away to determine if you are depressed.

Let the tears flow: They will bring healing whether you’re alone or in public. Crying is a natural outlet of grief. You do not have to apologize.

Grieving takes away energy: Grieving takes most, if not all, of your energy. Do not worry if you do not have as much strength as you did before your loss. Scale back and only do the things that are necessary. Don’t feel guilty about doing less.

Triggering events: Anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, places, objects and people may all bring forth memories surrounding your loss. Be prepared for the grief to gush forth again during these times.

Grief changes you: Grief is transforming. The process of grieving makes a person change who they are emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. It is okay to change. Just be aware it might happen. Try to accept the change rather than fight it.
Others whom are close to you will be at a loss: People have no idea how to discuss death or your personal loss. Tell friends and family specifically what you need and want during this period of grief. They will be thankful and so will you.

Be aware of scheduling changes: Life will not be normal and routines may need to be changed. Try to keep as much structure as possible in your life and lessen the amount of change.

Grief brings the chance for growth: Look for it. Direct your thoughts forward. Grief is a healing process.

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HOW TO GET THROUGH THE FIRST WEEKS AND MONTHS AFTER A DEATH

“Firsts” are hard when grieving. The first hour, days and weeks are times of mixed emotions. Time tends to move at odd speeds, varying from fast to slow. The first month, the first season change and the first year are all significant events. Being alert to these markers can help you prepare and endure through your growing and grieving process.
Take one day at a time: Your body, mind and spirit are completely consumed with grief. Focus on one day at a time and only what is in that day. Tomorrow will come soon enough.

Drop the feeling of “normal”: Nothing is going to be ordinary for some time to come. The first few weeks will be a rush of people, emotions and tasks. The next weeks will be sorting through belongings, thoughts and feelings. Months down the road glimmers of “normal” return.

Do only one thing at a time: Focus on one task, one person, and one thing at a time. Your ability to focus is low when you are grieving. Concentrating on one thing allows you to get that task done, and keep your mind busy.

Brace yourself for many losses: A death is the loss of a person but it can start a domino effect of other losses. Personal possessions are divided up between relatives or given away – a loss. A home might be sold – another loss. Don’t be disturbed if one loss seems to escalate until you feel overwhelmed.

Tell people what you need: Friends and family will not know how to help you unless you are specific about what you want and need. Tell them what you need. Ask for help. Then congratulate yourself when you do.

Remember to eat: Grieving affects the mind in many ways. You might not be hungry, you may forget to eat, but you need to eat to keep your strength. Grieving takes a lot of energy.

Sleep when you can: Your sleep will most likely be affected because of your loss. Some people can only sleep in spurts and others cannot sleep at all. We need sleep to function mentally and physically. Take a nap if you are tired – especially if you can’t sleep at night. Try sleeping in a different place in the house if you can’t sleep in your bed. See a doctor if sleeplessness persists.

Crying is okay: Let the tears flow either when you are alone or in public. Crying is a natural outlet of grief. Do not apologize.

Exercise every day: Exercising will help you deal with the multiple emotions that are going through your mind and body. It will also help you sleep better at night. Try to exercise the same time every day. A friend might help motivate you and keep you on an exercise schedule. Usually, after just a few days with an exercise routine, you will realize you feel better.

Seek support early: The first days after a loss will be busy. The following weeks and months will be when you have the most time to think. Get support during this time through friends, family or a grief therapist. You don’t have to walk along this path alone.

Lean on your faith: Remember to touch base with your spiritual side. It will bring comfort, strength and internal wisdom. If you have no belief system to help you through this rocky time, get in touch with nature. Perhaps this would be an appropriate time to reach out and explore new areas of thought or seek out others who hurt in the same way.

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IS IT GRIEF OR IS IT DEPRESSION

Understanding the difference between grief and depression is vitally important, especially when a death has occurred. Depression is a serious illness that can cripple a person’s life. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain which is treatable. When people are depressed they normally do not know it. Currently, an estimated 35 to 40 million people will suffer from some major depressive illness in their lifetime. Left untreated, depression can increase in severity. Grieving, however, usually lessens with time.
Feeling sadness continually: Generally, grieving takes one to three years. While you are grieving, not only will you feel sadness, you will have times of lighter mood. However, if your sadness is continual with no breaks, it could be a indication of depression.

Lack of interest: Losing a loved one can paralyze you. With depression, many things you used to be interested in may not hold your interest. Your interest in favorite hobbies and activities should start to return after several months.

Eating too much or too little: Right after a loss, you may lose your appetite. If after two months you have lost a significant amount of weight (without trying to) or have gained too much weight, you could be leaning toward depression.

Sleeping problems: Sleeping can be a problem for grieving people. However, when you are clinically depressed, regular sleep patterns do not return. If your sleeping does not start to become normal, consult a doctor.

Psychomotor: If other people notice that you are restless or your movements are slow and deliberate, you might be depressed.

Loss of energy: Grief and depression absorb all of a person’s energy. Often times, it is hard to go on with life because of the depth of your loss. As time moves on however, grief recedes and energy slowly trickles back. If after two months your energy has not started to return, see your doctor, you are most likely depressed.

Thoughts: Thoughts are as big a part of depression as actions. If you think thoughts like, “I am nothing”, “Now that I have suffered this loss I am no one”, “No one likes me”, you may be feeling insignificant which is a sign of depression.

Change in concentration: A death can make you forgetful in the short run because grief is overwhelming. If you find it is hard to concentrate on anything for very long or make decisions, you could be suffering from grief. If these symptoms continue they possibly point to depression.

Wanting to die: Some people wish they were deceased instead of the person who did die. This may pertain to parents who have lost a child. However, thinking about dying yourself, making comments about wishing you were dead, or thoughts of suicide are something to be taken seriously. You must contact a therapist, psychologist or a doctor. If you have plans to commit suicide please call 911 or go to your local emergency room.

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HELPING A FRIEND THROUGH GRIEF

When a friend experiences a death in their life many of us do not know the appropriate response. Do we talk to our friend about the death? Is it okay to go to their home or will you just be in the way? A friend is a valuable asset in a grieving individual’s life. You could help your friend more than you know.
Talk to your friend on an intimate level about their loss: Talking about the death will probably be important to your friend. Do not be afraid to talk on a deep personal level with your friend about the loss. Listen and do not be judgmental.

Give options on how you can help: People in grief cannot think clearly. Instead of asking “how can I help?” give specific items on how you can help. For example, “Can I go to the grocery store for you? Mow your lawn? Pick up people from the airport?”

Make outreaches to your friend: Grief can last up to three years after a death. Take the initiative to reach out to your friend during this time. Usually, the grieving person does not have the strength to reach out to others.

Remember anniversaries & special dates: After the funeral many people forget when a person died. Your friend will not forget. Important dates to remember are the first, second and third year after the death, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, holidays, the day the deceased became sick, and any other special day that was important to your friend and the deceased.

Spend time with your friend: Chances are, your friend will not call you to ask you to come over and spend time with them. Grieving people often have very little energy. It is best if you take the initiative to spend time with your friend.

Know your friend is going to change: Death and grief will change a person. Their world they knew has been changed and usually a death brings many other losses. Do not be angry or offended when you see the changes happening.

Watch for depression: Grief and depression are not the same. Grief is normal after a death. Depression is a change in the chemical balance of the brain. Warning signs your friend may be depressed are sleeping all day, major weight gain or loss, lack of interest in activities that once were fun, and thoughts of suicide. Take all self-destructive conversations seriously. Call 911 or take your friend to the emergency room.

Be an exercise partner: Offer to start working out with your friend. Exercise helps with grieving and sadness. Even if you and your friend go for a walk once a week, it is a great opportunity to spend quality time together and you’re both getting your exercise.

Do special things: People have a tendency to stop making contact with a grieving person a few weeks after the death. Do special little things for your friend. This could be from giving cards and flowers to offering to help cook a meal or weed the garden. The little things usually mean the most.

Let them cry: Crying is a natural part of grieving. Some people are uneasy and have no idea what to do when a person is crying. Let them cry. Bring them some tissue and listen. Crying will make your friend feel better.

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TWELVE WAYS TO COPE WITH YOUR GRIEF

Rituals are a beautiful and powerful way to honor and remember a loved one who has died. Rituals can give meaning and richness to your life and enhance the memory of another person that has been near and dear to you. During rituals, it is possible to enter into a sacred space that helps with healing. Meaningful rituals can provide reassurance of the continuation of life’s cycles, and can bring purpose to the grieving process while giving peace and hope.
Light a Candle: A candle can be placed in a window, on a mantle or by a special chair and light it every night. View this as a symbolic form of love’s light continuing.

Plant a Tree: Place a tree in your yard or in a special place your loved one liked to visit. Planting a tree gives a constant, growing reminder of the continuation of life and its many cycles.

Write in a Journal: Buy a special book for journaling. Express yourself by recording feelings and releasing grief. Journaling is secret, safe and therapeutic.

Make a Memory Box: Take a shoebox or a small box. Decorate it with items that hold memories. Put things inside the box that remind you of your loved one. You might want to add a little note why this item is so special. Keep if for yourself, or pass the memories on to a person that might enjoy them.

Plant Flowers: Planting favorite flowers or plants, either in your own yard or at the burial site, can help heal grief and create beauty. If this is not possible, donate flowers to a park, school or public place in memory of your loved one or even start a terrarium with small plants to bring color and beauty to your home.

Tell a Story: On special anniversaries and holidays tell a story about your loved one that had influence and meaning to you. Stories help you treasure the memories and pass on important messages to others of all generations. Love shines through unique tales.

Make a Scholarship: Give money to a local school in the name of your loved one. See the joy it brings as each year a student receives a scholarship in your loved one’s name.

Sing a Song: On the anniversary of your loss sing your loved one’s favorite song(s) with other family members and friends. Music helps heal pain that normal words can’t touch.

Give to a Charity: Each year make a donation to your loved one’s favorite charity in their name. If you prefer donate a book to your local library.

Celebrate with a Meal: On the day of your loved one’s birthday make their favorite dinner and invite friends and family over to share. Share stories about your loved one, or pass around pictures of times you enjoyed together.

Sharing with the Children: After sharing stories or photos with children or grandchildren, ask them to draw a picture about it. Frame the pictures or place them on the refrigerator with magnets. Draw a picture yourself. Let the child in you come alive.

Volunteer your Time: Do volunteer work on an issue or cause that held special meaning for your dear one and dedicate that service to their memory. Or, do a walk or run for a worthy cause as a memoriam. If your loved one was an animal lover, volunteer your time at your local animal shelter.

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CHILDREN & GRIEF BY AGES & STAGES

Children do grieve. Grief is expressed differently emotionally and physically depending on the age of the child. As an adult, try not to impose your expectations on a child regarding how he/she should look, act or feel in reaction to death. Knowing the age-stage of the grieving child can help you help the child.

Birth to age 3:
View of death: The child sees death as a loss, separation or desertion. The perception of death is hard to understand. There is no sense of permanence.

Warning signs: Seek help if you see that the child is unresponsive, quiet and lethargic, or changes sleep patterns. On the contrary, a child can “act out” and become aggressive, hard to settle and irritable.

Help the child: Keep their schedules normal, (i.e. Feeding, naps, play time, going to bed). Give them as much security and reassurance as possible.

Age 3 to 6:
View of death: At this stage, a child sees things as reversible and brief. Death and life are hard to separate. They may believe in “magical thinking”. They believe that their thoughts can cause things to happen such as a death or bringing someone back to life.

Warning signs: Children may exhibit nightmares, confusion, eating, sleeping, bladder or bowel problems and/or revert to an earlier stage of development. Sometimes they may even seem to be unaffected by the death. Do not hesitate to get help as soon as possible if you notice a change in their behavior.

Help the child: Talk about the death using books and stories. Explain to the child that they did not “think” the death or make it happen. Teach them that if they are “good” doesn’t mean the person who has died will return. In other words, the child’s thoughts and behaviors had nothing to do with dying.

Age 7 & 8:
View of death: Children start seeing death as final. The concept for many kids is that death happens to the elderly but not to them. Many questions will materialize about death.

Warning signs: Children may have problems in school, become aggressive, quiet, clingy, or think they have numerous health problems. Watch for signs of depression such as crying all the time, not wanting to get out of bed or thoughts of dying. They may not want to sleep in their own bed anymore. Take everything seriously. Do not hesitate to get help as soon as possible if behavior has changes.

Help the child: Talk about the death in an open and honest manner. Have the child draw, write and tell a story about the person who has died. Answer their questions honestly and be honest with them about your emotions. Encourage them to talk. If they ask complicated questions, answer them fully. At this age a child can handle deep concepts and generally has a big curiosity.

Age 9 & Up:
View of death: By now the child understands that death is going to happen. By the time kids are 12 they know for sure it is final and irreversible. They not only know it could happen to someone else but also to themselves.

Warning signs: Children may exhibit a wide range of feelings including: shock, denial, anxiety, fear, anger, depression or even withdrawal. Their reactions begin to be much more like an adult except they may act out their grief by behavioral changes at home or school. Take everything seriously. Do not hesitate to get help as soon as possible if behavior changes and seems inappropriate.

Help the child: Talk about the death openly and honestly. Answer the child’s questions completely. Be forthright about your emotions. Encourage the child to talk. Listen patiently. Do not try to “correct” their feelings. Help the child find others in their age group to talk to.

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HONORING & COPING WITH ANNIVERSARIES OF LOSS

You have made it to the anniversary of losing a loved one and survived. Acknowledge your accomplishment! Life has gone on since you began your grief journey. Moving forward with your life is a big process and you are now on your way.
Forgive Yourself: Grief immobilizes you. Realize grief takes time to work through and therefore, you may not have accomplished everything you wanted to accomplish in this period of loss. Write down all the things you think you should have done and haven’t during your time of grief. Look at these items and let them go.

Forgive Your Lost Loved One: People are not perfect. Forgiving is a strong healing tool. Using an anniversary as a reminder to forgive someone helps you to heal and move on.

Talk to People: Family and friends may not know a special anniversary is arriving soon or know what to do for you. Tell them what you need and what you want during this time.

Crying is Okay: Let the tears flow either when you are alone or in public. Crying is a natural outlet of grief. Do not apologize.

Tell a Story: On anniversaries tell a story about your loved one that had impact and a special meaning to you. Stories help treasure the memories and pass on special times to others of all generations. Love shines through unique tales.

Write Letters: Take the anniversary as an opportunity to write your thoughts and feelings. Talk about the good times, things that you miss, times when it was hard. Keep the letter, mail it or send it away in a inventive manner. You might consider posting it on the Internet at a grief or memorial site.

Give Permission: Tell yourself it is okay to move on with your life. Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting – it means living life now. Attempt to do one new thing during the next few weeks. Give yourself the go-ahead to be happy.

Remember the Pain of Others: Anniversaries of a loss doesn’t usually affect one person. Take this time to reconnect with other people who share this same loss over dinner, a special event, or a beverage.

Take Comfort in Your Faith: Use your faith as a place to give you comfort and solace while you are healing. Talk to others in your place of worship or faith community and ask them to keep you in their prayers.

Be Thankful: Grieving sometimes makes us forget the good things we do have in our life. Be still for a few moments and reflect on the blessings that grace your life everyday. Start a daily blessings journal to remind you of the good.

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LOSS OF A CHILD

When you have just lost your child your world has shattered and stopped. You have just suffered the most profound loss that an individual can suffer. The loss of a child is not part of the natural order of life. This kind of unique loss changes you. Learn what to watch for while grieving and how to help yourself.
Crying is natural: Cry as much and as often as you want and need. Let the tears flow either when you are alone or in public. Crying is a common outlet for grief. Do not apologize.

Recognize that time does heal: Your loss will be powerful and long-term but it won’t always knock you to your knees. Do not try to shortcut the grieving process.

Beware of change: Losing a child can feel like you have lost a physical part of yourself. The loss also puts into question your role as parents. The loss of your child will change your world. Realize you still can make choices and have control over how you build your life after your loss.

Feeling Guilty: It is normal to feel guilt after the death of your child. You may feel guilty that you could have prevented his/her death. Also you may feel guilty because you are unable to care or help your remaining children as much as you would like. If the guilt keeps getting worse, get professional help.

Honor the life your child lived: Do not try to hide it. Tell other people and family what a wonderful gift you had in your life. Sharing can help heal. Try to find meaning in your child’s life.

Watch for special dates: Losing a child is losing the present and also the future. Special anniversary dates, holidays and birthdays can be doubly hard because not only are you grieving his/her loss, you are grieving the life your child would have had at that special time.

Know gender differences: Recognize that you and your spouse are most likely going to grieve differently. Try not to blame or criticize your spouse over his/her grieving. Your spouse is also the person who can support you the most. He or she has also lost their child. Lean on each other.

Go to Therapy: Losing a child is a pain that is indescribable. Do not try to manage this pain on your own. Seek out a grief therapist who can help monitor your mental health, help you make an action plan and be there to listen when you need it the most.

Watch for Depression: Being sad and grieving is crippling. Being depressed is a chemical change in your brain. Depression is sometimes missed because it is thought to be “just grieving”. If you think you are depressed get a doctor’s evaluation. Do not disregard thoughts of suicide. If you are suicidal, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

Remember your remaining children and family: Grieving affects all members of the family. Other children sometimes are forgotten or ignored by parents who are buried in their own grief. Find the energy to talk to your remaining children about their thoughts and feelings. Get a therapist for yourself and/or your other children if you do not have the strength to parent as well as grieve.

Talk to family and friends: Friends, family and those at work will not know how to help you or relate to you unless you are specific about your wants and needs. Tell others what you need so they do not fall short of your expectations. Ask for help- it is okay, and at this time in your life – essential.

Lean on your faith: Remember to touch base with your source of spirituality. It will bring comfort strength and internal wisdom. If you have no belief system to help you through this rugged time, get in touch with nature. Perhaps this would be an appropriate time to reach out and explore new areas of thought. Or, seek out others who hurt in the same way.

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COPING WITH GRIEF DURING A HOLIDAY

Grieving can become more intense during a holiday. When grieving, coping is a way of attempting to overcome difficulties and/or problems. Coping isn’t necessarily about survival. It is about growth. Grief during a holiday can become a cleansing process – one that makes your loss become a transforming experience for both you and others.
Pace Yourself: You do not have to uphold all the obligations you did in the past. Allow yourself the luxury to slow down, release and let go of the old “should have” and “have to” concept.

To Say “No” is Okay: It is okay to tell others NO. This means you can reject invitations or visitors if you don’t feel up to it. People will understand if you are not able to attend every function or event.

Pamper Yourself: If you deplete your energy you will have less strength to care for yourself or others during any holiday celebration. Therefore, take extra time for you!

Tell People what You Need: Friends and family will not know how to help you or relate to you unless you are specific about your wants and needs. Tell others what you need. Ask for help. Then congratulate yourself when you do.

Make New Rituals: When you make a new tradition it signals to yourself and others that your life has changes. A new tradition does not mean that your old traditions are any less important.

Honor Traditions: Traditions hold many emotions for people. After a loss some traditions may become more or less important. Let people know what traditions are meaningful to you and that you want to keep. It is okay to let some traditions go.

Remember Your Physical Needs: Eat, sleep and drink plenty of liquids to maintain your physical strength. Be sure to keep your environment clean and orderly to help your emotions and keep you on an even keel.

Tell Others Exactly what Holidays are Important to You: You may take it for granted that others know what holidays and religious observances are landmarks for you. They don’t. Advocate and inform others. They will be grateful and so will you.

Crying is Okay: Let the tears flow. You need to feel comfortable expressing yourself wherever you are. Crying is a natural outlet of grief. Do not apologize.

Make Action Plans: During the holidays life can be busy and stressful. Before that special holiday arrives make a plan regarding how you are going to cope with stress. Make a list of people you can call when you need support and places you can go for solace and healing.

Consult Your Family and Friends: Talk to your family and friends to see what they want to do during the upcoming holiday. Many people may be feeling the same things you are feeling but may not know how to discuss them with you.

Lean on Your Faith: Remember to touch base with your source of spirituality. It will bring comfort, strength and internal wisdom.

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Tulocay Cemetery, Funeral Home, Crematory
PO Box 7
411 Coombsville Road
Napa, CA 94559
Tom@tulocaycemetery.org