How to be the Next of Kin - Part 1
Step One - Preparing Yourself
A loved one has died. Your life and everything in it has been shifted. Like a movie that has been paused, your life has been temporarily frozen onto this scene. It is surreal. You don’t feel that it has happened. You can’t wrap your mind around it. You, and others who loved this person are thrown into the world of grief and loss. On top of all of this, unbelievably so, you will face more challenge in the days to come. You have an obligation. You have a duty to this loved one. You must put all the hurt, tears, and doubt in your purse or pocket and carry it out the door with you as you make final arrangements.
The way you handle things from here is your choice. You will have to fulfill this very difficult obligation in a manner most comfortable for you while respecting all of your loved ones wishes. There are some obstacles that you will have to face. I will prepare you for some here, but others may come up for you. Just keep in mind that your only obligation is to the deceased and do not allow yourself to be swayed. You can't please everyone and, unfortunately, you may be asked or even expected to. Your ONLY obligation is to the deceased! You will get thru this.
I recommend you first sit down and think about the person you lost. Were they traditional? How did they feel about funerals? Did they have a will or make their wishes known? Traditional people would probably prefer traditional ceremonies. Use information about them to personalize their service. You can use things like pictures, items that they were proud of, achievements and many other things to make the service more about them and less of a routine step. Once you have a clear picture of them in your heart, finding the right location to hold the ceremony gets a little easier.
Should you allow other family members to help or not?
You will need some support. Making arrangements will take so much out of you. You will not be able to keep it together most times and you are in no way expected to. When making arrangements you will be dealing with professionals who know that you are just starting down your journey in grief. That being said, there is a lot of vulnerability and I would like to share some tips for choosing a funeral home from another hub that I wrote. It will also cover what to expect as far as cost and service choices.
There are many things involved in making arrangements. Financials will come up. You may encounter differences in religion. You may have a conflict stemming from traditions. This is why I made sure to highlight the fact that you are not a mediator or a negotiator. Your ONLY obligation is to the deceased. I am not opposed to allowing family to help or making this a group effort as long as it does not put any undue stress, pressure, or obligation on you. If the extravagant plans of one family member become a financial problem or there is a difference in opinion, use the 'I have to think things thru' card to end the planning for that day. Later politely thank everyone for their time and input with their help you were able to decide what arrangements were best. When they question, which they will, let them know everyone will be finding out on the day of the service. Some may get upset, others won't. These things come with the situation.
I find the most important thing in making arrangements is to make sure that it is representative or your loved one. This is a tribute to them and their life. For my husband, it was called a celebration of life. The location reflected his styles and his colors. I didn't special order anything or pay extra for customization. I looked around. My husband was classy, he loved earthy colors. So the dingy, old location with an over abundance of fake flowers was not the place.
The next of kin is responsible for dressing their loved one. Many recommended a suit for my Prince. My Prince, however, hated suits. He loved everything but the stuffy blazer. The comments that will come will be from people who clearly do not know this person well enough to understand. Make them beautiful and keep it dignified. What would they wear to a special occasion? My husband loved his cufflinks, his favorite were his Decepticon cufflinks. So I knew a cuffed shirt was a must. He wore the pants he chose to marry me in. There was meaning in every piece including jewelry. He would have been happy which was what I cared about most.
Morale of the story...Your ONLY obligation is to the deceased. Honor them, the rest will be better for it. Good luck and many blessings.
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