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After the Funeral

Following the ceremony

The time surrounding a death and funeral can be incredibly busy for those involved - and it doesn't end after the deceased has been interred. There are two elements involved in the time after the funeral: what to do immediately following the service and what to do in the weeks and months following a death.

Immediately Following the Service

Following a funeral it's common for there to be a gathering of mourners, either at the funeral home, at the home of a loved one or at a hall. If you're invited to such a gathering, it is important to try to attend. While there will be a lot of people around and you might not get to spend a lot of time with the bereaved, your attendance is a simple way to show support and sympathy.

If you're close to the family, you may actually want to organize the gathering following the funeral. You can provide a place and arrange for food and refreshments. This will take a lot of pressure off the bereaved, which will be greatly appreciated. If you're not especially close to the family, perhaps you'd like to offer help with the gathering. You can clean up, or take it upon yourself to entertain any children in attendance. Your involvement will mostly depend on your relationship to the bereaved.

While attending a gathering following a funeral you should take the opportunity to offer sympathy to the bereaved.

In the Weeks and Months Following a Death

After the chaos of the funeral and its accompanying customs calms down, mourners have to begin adjusting to daily life without the deceased. For those who know the bereaved but aren't incredibly close to them, it can be uncomfortable and difficult to know what to say in the weeks and months following a death.

How you'll interact with the bereaved in the time after the funeral will first depend on whether or not you attended the ceremony. If you were a part of the funeral process, then the next time you encounter the bereaved you can simply greet them and inquire as to how things are going for them.

If you were unable to attend the funeral and you run into one of the bereaved at a later date, you might consider not directly bringing up the death. You can't be sure of how they're dealing with the event and you don't want to bring up uncomfortable memories. Instead indicate you understand they're going through a difficult time, and perhaps offer to spend some time together.

If you're close to the bereaved you'll want to take it upon yourself to maintain contact in the time following the death. The bereaved may not feel the energy or desire to contact someone if they need to talk, so you can take that burden off them. Call or write regularly and continue to include them in your social plans. They may not accept any invitations at first, but be consistent and they'll join you when they're ready.

All you can offer to the bereaved is support. Let them know they're not alone, just because the funeral process has ended.

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