Taking time to say goodbye
Spending time with loved ones
Spending time with your loved one after they have died can help you with your grieving process. We may logically understand that someone has died, but it can take a while for our heart and mind to really grasp the reality that they have gone.
Grief counsellor Alan Wolfelt talks about the importance of saying hello to the physical reality of death. He believes spending time with your loved one’s body after death helps us acknowledge the reality of their death.
Spending time with the body
We offer comfortable, private rooms for you and your family to say goodbye to your loved one. We can also arrange for your loved one to spend time at home, or in your marae, before the funeral.
Some people like to take this opportunity to leave small mementos such as gifts, cards, letters, or other meaningful items. Sometimes families like to decorate their loved one’s casket together. How you spend this precious time is up to you.
Children and grief
It can be good for children to spend time with loved ones after death and take part in their funeral, because it helps them understand what has happened, express their grief, and receive comfort from others. Children often like to draw a picture or write a letter or poem to put in the casket.
However, you know your child best, and you know what’s best for them. Experts recommend empowering your child to choose how much they want to be involved. Never force them to do anything that makes them uncomfortable.
It’s also important to speak calmly and clearly about death. Children can ask very direct questions. Euphemisms for death can confuse and distress younger children, so we recommend keeping your language simple and easy to understand.
Children and teenagers express their grief differently to adults. They may oscillate between feeling angry and distressed, dark humour, or seeming unconcerned. Every child is different and will react differently. Try to reassure them, support them, and accept without judgement. It will take time for them to deal with what has happened and what it means for them.
Skylight, a New Zealand agency supporting children, young people and their whānau to deal with times of change, loss, trauma and grief, has useful resources to help you support children and teenagers as they grieve.