Spotlight: Finding Peace After the Loss of A Loved One

Experiencing the death of a loved one is extremely personal, and everyone deals with a loss in a different way. Numerous variables exist and contribute to our personal feelings when it comes to the loss of someone we love or had a deep connection with. These variables include what your loss is (relational connection), how the loss happened (expected or unexpected), the age of the person that was lost and the depth of the relationship. The bottom line is that no matter what kind of loss you are dealing with, it ultimately is up to you in how you manage your grieving. This month, we place the Spotlight on Mary Yarber-Quinnelly, Bereavement Specialist at Ascension Funeral Home and Cremations in Mobile, AL to give those who are finding the loss of a loved one extremely difficult the hope they need when feeling alone and lost

A Glimpse into the Journey
Grieving is a tremendously personal journey, and according to Mary, “grief does not have a clear beginning or end.” Like life itself, grief is not something that unfolds neatly, starting on cue with denial and continuing until after the mourner reaches the final stage – accepting that the person is gone. In her 32 years of serving both individuals and families who are experiencing grief at any level from a loss, Mary’s compassionate and gentle heart has guided her in the process of helping the bereaved gain the courage to heal.

Grief is not something people simply recover from like the flu or a broken arm. Rather, as Mary states, “it is a reflection of feelings surrounding the loss.” Grief often comes in waves, meaning it can wash over us at unexpected moments – what Mary defines as a “common reaction of our present feelings.” Certain things we encounter on a daily basis trigger rise of grief, such as things we hear, see or even smell that reminds us of the individual. This, as Mary mentions, is the “ebb and flow through our life after a loss, but certainly gets better with time.”

How to Begin Healing
Mary says “It is important to have a balanced focus throughout the grieving process.” Knowing when and being able to shift your focus from working on acceptance of the death to focusing on future goals, or to reconnect with your loved one, can be nothing short of challenging. While many individuals can navigate the path to grief support with the support of loved ones, for others there may be several ‘roadblocks’ in their path. One main reason for this comes from a societal level, where death, dying and bereavement are taboo topics. As a result, many individuals simply aren’t educated about the grief process, particularly about the importance of finding new meaning or purpose in living after the death of a loved one.

As humans, we are constantly motivated to search for things that give meaning and bring joy into our lives. However, if you are overwhelmed with sadness as you struggle to accept the reality of a loved one’s passing, it may seem very well impossible to think about trying to get through life in a state of happiness without their presence. But after the first few months following your loved one’s death, Mary says it is important, regardless of the level of sadness, to “talk to someone about your feelings.” Doing so may help with acceptance on a deeper level of your loved one’s death. “This is a normal reaction to pain and loss”, she continues.

Greater acceptance of the death may help you to reconnect with your deceased loved one in memory. Reconnecting with your loved one may alleviate some of the longing and sadness you feel so you are freer to focus on redefining your goals and reimagining your life purpose. Mary emphasizes the importance of finding a support group as there will be others who are going through very similar feelings as yourself. Mary hosts a weekly support group known as Group Share, which meets every Tuesday at 1:00 pm at Ascension Funeral Home & Crematory located on Hillcrest Road in Mobile. In addition to joining a group, she suggests taking personal and intimate steps to recovery such writing a letter to your loved one or even journalizing your feelings as ways to keep the connection between you and the loved one strong.

What to Expect from Forest Lawn Funeral Home
As previously mentioned, education on grieving as a whole is often lacking because people tend to beat around the bush when talking about death. At Forest Lawn Funeral Home, Mary understands the process it takes to heal a grieving individual or family. “We must take it one day at a time,” she says, “being patient with them while they discover their own path towards healing.” But it is more than just patience, as Mary says her job as a bereavement specialist is to offer “love, empathy, understanding, support and encouragement.” Doing so will allow the healing process to begin taking place.

Mary attests to the committed and caring staff at Forest Lawn Funeral Home, stating the environment offers a “safe place for the grieving individual.” Bereaved persons should feel comfortable coming to Ascension and speaking with Mary for help as she is here to provide the ongoing, consistent and available grief recovery support for those expressing intent. Mary says “Forest Lawn Funeral Home wants the bereaved to know they are not just another person here for support” but instead, a valued individual whose troubles are addressed in a respectful and compassionate manner. If you or someone you know is struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one, contact Mary and the team at Forest Lawn Funeral Home at  (251) 675-0824.

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