Grieving Has a Purpose – It Helps You Heal After the Loss of a Loved One

By Cary Bliley, president of Bliley’s Funeral Homes, with three locations in the Richmond Metro area.

As a society we avoid sad or uncomfortable topics because we think it’s a way to elude pain and not deal with a loss. This is especially true if the loss was tragic or an untimely death. A grief professional will tell you that avoidance is the worst thing that you can do because it hinders the grieving process which can lead to unhealthy behaviors.

From 1997 my uncle, Nick Bliley, was the President of Bliley’s. Since we are a small business everyone that works at Bliley’s is like family. Just over 3 years ago, my uncle tragically died by suicide, and everyone in our company was affected by his death. In the immediate aftermath, there was so much sadness and chaos.

The one thing that helped was to go through the motions of the funeral ritual. Who would know those rituals better than us? But what we truly found was that by going through these rituals, we gained a sense of strength from the support of each other, a recognition of this shocking loss and a time for each one of us to say our good-byes. This enabled the healing process to slowly begin for us all.

At the end of the day, funerals are for the living. I always like to say the “perfect funeral” is one with the perfect blend of what the deceased wanted and what has meaning to the family that’s left behind.

Additionally, what really can help families deal with grief is their hands-on involvement in whatever kind of service they choose. The more they participate and are engaged with what’s going on, the more sense they  have of knowing they’ve done all they could to honor their loved one. This seems to help them to move forward in their own lives.

About half of Richmond families today choose cremation. That’s why we built our cremation center with a space that encourages families to be present during cremation. This is the only space of its kind in the area that encourages involvement.

About 25-30% of families we work who choose cremation elect to be present for the cremation. This ritual can range from small solemn services with clergy to upbeat celebrations of life. The sense of finality and healing that families get from journeying with their loved one to that point is very beneficial for them.

That’s why anyone considering pre-arranging a funeral should include their family in this process. We know these discussions are hard to have, but doing this in advance can be a gift to your family even when you are gone.

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