Losing a sibling: How to remember and recover

Sibling relationships are seldom simple. There seems to be a natural tendency for these relationships to be simultaneously loving and irksome. All siblings have disagreements and quarrels about silly things, but they are also quick to defend each other and are tied by a very special connection. Having such a close companion your entire life may make the loss of a sibling especially difficult. Even more so, there is a certain stigma surrounding the death of a sibling. Not being a spouse, parent, or child, some may think that the grief is less severe when the opposite might actually be true. You may be expected to take care of others affected by the death instead of taking time to care for yourself. Keep reading for comforting words.

losing a sibling

Respect your grief

As already mentioned, sometimes the death of a sibling can be swept under the rug. You may be busy taking care of your parents, or your siblings’ spouse and you may forget to take care of yourself in the process. Just as mourning the death of anyone else, the intensity and type of grief depends on the person and situation. Give yourself the time and space to grieve the death of your sibling in a way that suits you, and remember that your feelings are valid. Familiarize yourself with the grieving process and what you can expect following the death of a loved one. (Click here for 3 Common behaviors you may experience while grieving)

Deal with feelings of guilt or anger

It’s natural when a sibling dies to feel guilty or angry. Guilt can take many forms, be it survivor’s guilt, an unsettled argument, and many other possible reasons. The idea of survivor’s guilt is especially common among siblings, as they are normally close in age. Thoughts such as “I’m the oldest, I should have died first” or “He was a kinder person, I’m the one who deserved to die” are common examples of survivor’s guilt. While guilt is normal while grieving, long-term guilt can be very destructive. Try to let go of whatever guilt you may feel and focus on the good times you had with your sibling. Anger can also take many forms. You may be mad at yourself, your sibling for leaving you, or even God for taking your sibling away. This is also normal, but like feelings of guilt, extensive anger is not healthy. If you experience severe and prolonged anger or guilt, seeking help from your pastor or mental health professional may be helpful.

Celebrate through memories

Memorialization is an extremely important part of the grieving process. Memorializing someone ensures that their memory lives on for decades and generations, making sure that their memory never dies. Some good ways to memorialize your sibling include passing down special mementos, creating photo albums, or watching home videos. Some people find it helpful to continue a hobby or tradition that is associated with their sibling. Also, it’s important to talk about your sibling and share memories about them. At first this might be hard, but over time it will get easier. Talking about them often will help you heal while also honoring their memory.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Living alone after the death of a spouse

Marriage is a blessed sacrament for a reason. There is no substitution for standing up and confessing your love for another person, all while being showered in the graces of the Holy Spirit. It’s a very beautiful and spiritual experience to be married, which makes the death of a spouse even harder to experience. Marriage is the act of literally sharing your life with someone, physically and spiritually; so when a spouse passes away, it may feel as if a part of yourself has passed away as well. You may not remember what life was like before your spouse, and may be at a total loss on how to carry out your day to day activities. This is normal. Allowing yourself time to grieve and mourn the loss of your spouse is the healthiest thing you can do to assure a healthy transition to life without them. While no one grieves the same way, there are techniques that can help combat feelings of loneliness or desertion following the death of a spouse…

Untitled Design.jpg

1. Change can be good.

Living together, couples form certain systems and routines that they perform together, such as making the bed in the morning, going to church each week, or perhaps watching a show at a certain time each night. Immediately following the death of a loved one, and especially a spouse, you may have the tendency to hold onto certain items or routines that remind you of them. With the tragic change that is death, there is a need for certain levels of consistency and normalcy. There is nothing wrong with keeping certain things the same, but it’s also important to recognize that some new routines can be helpful. Whether it’s your morning or nighttime routine, your dinner routine, or even the way you make you coffee, if the old way of doing things doesn’t work anymore, change it! You might be surprised by how empowered and free you may feel with even the smallest of changes.

2. Supplement, don’t replace.

The loneliness felt after the death of a spouse can be hard. After sharing your life with someone and living with them, going home to an empty house at night may feel overwhelming. A great way to combat this feeling is to meet new people. Whether it’s reaching out to family and friends, joining a book club, or attending a Church group, spending time with other people can make you feel more connected and less isolated. While you can never replace your spouse, it’s important to remember the other people you have in your life as well!

3. Appreciate solitude

While it may seem contradictory, having some time to yourself can actually be very beneficial. It gives you time to learn more about yourself, and can open your heart and mind to hearing what God may be trying to tell you. There’s nothing wrong with spending some alone time to figure out who you are as a person, and find out what makes you happy.

Above all else, God is always there for you to listen and comfort. Just as he was present during your marriage ceremony, he is present with you always to offer his grace.

Information gathered from “Living Alone After the Death of a Spouse” by Karen Katafiasz

Post written by Katie Karpinski

What you should know about grave settling

School supplies are on sale, the air is getting cooler, and grocery stores are already selling Halloween candy. That’s right—Autumn is fast approaching! With any change in the seasons, we here at the Catholic Cemeteries Association are placed with the very important task of maintaining our graves, both old and new. Some common questions we hear involve how long it takes for a grave to settle, what the process entails, and the procedure surrounding new burials. You might be surprised by some of the answers! Keep reading to learn what you should know about grave settling.

1. What is grave settling?

Grave settling is the process of the earth (soil, clay, etc.) surrounding the burial readjusting.

2. How long does is take a grave to settle?

The duration of time it takes for a grave to settle varies greatly on the season, type of burial, and other external factors. However, on average its takes about a year for a grave to fully settle.

3. What is the process of leveling a grave?

Directly after the burial, the vault is surrounded by filler. While many cemeteries use only soil, we at the Catholic Cemeteries Association use fill sand to the top of the vault and then soil from the vault to the top of the grave. Sand is much more durable against water and therefore speeds and assists in the settling process. As the grave settles throughout the year, additional soil is added.

4. When will grass be planted?

Grass will be planted on a grave before the grave has settled completely. Typically, the first seed application will occur within a few months of the burial, depending on the season. As the grave continues to settle throughout the year, more soil and seed are applied until the grave is level and the grass has grown in fully. Please keep in mind that grass seed cannot be planted during summer and winter months as the seeds will not germinate. We understand that leveling and seeding can cause distress to a family and we ask for your patience during the process.

5. When can a memorial or monument be placed?

This answer varies depending on the individual situation. Many memorials can be set soon after the burial, weather permitting. The type of memorial (flush or above ground) will also affect how quickly it can be placed on a grave. It is also important to consider the production time of the memorial and if a poured cement foundation is required. Generally, memorials are not able to be set during late fall through early spring.

 

3 things men should know about grieving

Grief is much like a natural disaster—it’s unpredictable and doesn’t discriminate. It effects men and women, young and old, rich and poor. The only aspect of grief that can be controlled is how it’s handled by the individual, and that’s where some differences can occur.
While society may be trending towards more accepting gender standards, men are still faced with the constant assumption that “big boys don’t cry.” While this philosophy may work well during a sports game, it shouldn’t be accepted in all facets of life—particularity in regards to grieving. Men have the natural tendency to downplay uncomfortable feelings, expecting the feelings to just go away if ignored long enough. In other cases, men may acknowledge the negative feeling, but still not partake in proper coping mechanisms. Instead of experiencing grief, they try to speed the process which is exactly what NOT to do when grieving. We all need some guidance when it comes to grieving– men might need a little extra. Take a look at these 3 things men should know about grieving. Whether it’s you or someone you know, these tips will assist in a healthy grieving process and hopefully bring some comfort.

Untitled Design

 

1. Grieving is a process

Men are notorious for finding quick solutions. They are fixers, it’s what they do. To have something broken for too long makes them anxious, which is why grieving can be so difficult for some. When you lose a loved one, part of your heart breaks. Unlike home repair projects, this damage can’t be fixed with super glue or a call to a repairman. It takes time. Grieving is process that requires patience, both with yourself and those around you. It’s important to slow down and understand that you cannot fix this alone, and it won’t mend overnight.

2. It’s okay to not have it “together”

Whether you’re a father, husband, brother, uncle, or even just a close friend, men are often seen as the primary defenders and providers for their family and friends. They are born into leadership roles, and because of this they have people depending on them constantly. This certainly places pressure on men who are trying to be everything to everyone. While grieving, life can become hectic and confusing. Even more so, the emotional and physical turmoil one experiences can be disorienting in themselves. You may feel bad if you can’t be that provider all the time, but do not feel guilty. Instead, embrace your humanity and learn to rely on others as they have always relied on you. Also, don’t forget to rely on God who will never forsake you.

3. It’s okay to cry

Men are taught at a young age that crying is not acceptable. This is mainly attributed to the connection of crying with weakness. However, crying is a sign of strength and courage. Tearing down those emotional barriers and unapologetically expressing your feelings is a brave thing to do. Even more so, crying can be extremely helpful in the grieving process. Crying releases endorphins which can elevate your mood and energy. Crying is also a healthy way to express sadness, anger, or loss—so why keep it in?

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski
Information gathered from “Handling Grief as a Man” by Bob Miller.

3 common behaviors you may experience while grieving

Grieving is a very difficult and personal process. It varies greatly from person to person, scenario to scenario. The way people handle grief is truly specific to the individual; however, there are some common behaviors and symptoms that you may experience while grieving. Understanding these behaviors can help you and those you care about handle grief in a healthy way. Not only that, but knowing that certain behaviors are common can help combat feelings of isolation or loneliness that often emerge after the loss of a loved one. Keep reading to learn more about 3 common behaviors you may experience while grieving.

grief.jpg

1. Change in lifestyle patterns

After the loss of a loved one, it is normal to experience some changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Perhaps, when you try to lie down and go to bed you are greeted with anxious thoughts, or when it’s time for dinner you don’t seem to have an appetite. Whatever the case may be, it is completely normal to have these patterns disrupted. If these symptoms begin to seriously affect your life, counseling or a visit to your doctor can be helpful. However, in most cases these disruptions go away with time.

2. Forgetfulness or Confusion

When you lose someone, you are forced to accept a new reality. This adjustment can be difficult, and can cause confusion or forgetfulness. You are living in a different world, one that you have no experience navigating yet. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself time to readjust. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and reach out to friends and family for additional support. Remember that this period of confusion is temporary, and will lessen with time.

3. Physical Responses

Grief is believed by many to be an emotional pain; however, grief can also cause some physical reactions. For example, a tightness in the chest and throat, low energy and weakness, dry mouth, restlessness, and sensitivity to noise and light are all common physical symptoms of grief. These effects may be frustrating at times, and cause you to feel detached or even ill, but just remember these are all temporary conditions. Go easy on yourself and listen to what your body tells you. Just as you need time to mentally and emotionally adjust, your body needs some time to heal as well.

 

 

Information gathered from What’s Really “Normal” When You’re Grieving by Robert Zucker.
Copyright Abby Press, St. Meinrad, Indiana 2004
Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

5 ways to comfort someone who is grieving

Grieving is an extremely painful and difficult process. The death of a loved one can turn the world upside down, leaving people emotionally upset, confused, and exhausted. As Catholics, we are called to comfort the grieving, which is no simple task. Comforting people can be a challenging experience, and calls for much strength and divine grace. There are some guidelines that can help you through the consoling process. Keep reading to learn about 5 ways to comfort someone who is grieving.

bereavement.jpg

1. Be perceptive

We have all experienced grief in some form. It’s easy, when comforting someone who is grieving, to compare or draw on our own experiences in an effort to empathize. However, it’s important that you remember each person is different in the way they grieve, for how long, etc. People feel grief in different ways. Coping methods that worked for you may not work for others—do not get upset or impatient if someone doesn’t grieve the same way you do. Meet them where they are and try to understand them the best you can.

2. Be genuine (avoid vague assurances and common clichés)

It’s a natural tendency to try and comfort someone who’s grieving by saying “I’m sure they are in a better place now” or “everything happens for a reason.” While these statements may be true, they aren’t very helpful to someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. Instead, speak the facts. Let them know that yes– grieving is a painful experience, but you will be with them every step of the way. Also, be as specific as possible when talking about someone who has passed away. Instead of saying “We will all miss Jane” or “Bob touched so many lives” talk about a specific memory you had with the person, or elaborate on how they impacted your life specifically.

3. Be present

After the loss of a loved one, life can become overwhelming. There are so many final arrangements to take care of, not to mention managing family, work, and other personal obligations. People who experience the loss of a loved one may need help and not even realize it, or might not know how to ask. Some common areas that people need additional help with include meal preparation, shopping for toiletries and other necessities, financial advice (perhaps a referral to a trusted financial advisor), yard work, transportation, etc. Instead of asking someone if they “need help”, offer to do one of these tasks specifically. It’s important to remember, however, the fine line between helping someone and being in the way. Some people may prefer to handle things on their own, or they might just want to keep their home private. In this case, dropping off a care package on their front door is a nice gesture, letting the person know you care without imposing on their grieving process. Also- never forget the power behind a quick phone call or handwritten note to let the person know they are in your thoughts and prayers.

 

4. Be a good listener

The truth is, most people are in the habit of ignoring or hiding sadness and other unhappy emotions. However, it’s important that people express their grief and sadness in order to move on in a healthy way. Therefore, do not try to “fix” someone, or distract them from their grief. Instead, listen. Listen to their favorite story about their loved one, even if they tell the same story over and over again. Encourage them to talk about their loved one, including saying the loved one’s name out loud. This can help keep the memory of the deceased alive, and lets the person grieving know that you are comfortable talking about the death. Acknowledging the deceased and the life they lived is much healthier than trying to distract the person and forcing them to move on too quickly.

 

5. Be smart

It’s important to be understanding and patient with someone who is grieving. They may do or say confusing or even hurtful things. It’s important to remember the different stages of grief, and that people handle those stages differently. However, if you notice that the individual is turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as excessive medication, self-harm, uncontrolled rage or depression, or complete denial of the death— it’s time to reach out for professional help (listed below). In less severe cases, you can also reach out to close family or your local clergy for additional help. There is no shame or failure in turning for more help, it simply means you are wise enough to understand what you are able to handle and what should be brought to someone else’s attention.

 

Emergency numbers and organizations
United Way: dial 211
Catholic Charities: 216-334-2978
Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-8255
Addiction Services: 877-896-5143

FOR ALL IMMEDIATE EMERGENCIES DIAL 911  

 

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

 

Fun times at the FEST 2017

The Catholic Cemeteries Association was very excited to return to the FEST this year! Having sponsored the event for over 15 years, the Catholic Cemeteries Association is known for our delicious snow cones, so much so that our tent was attracting visitors as early as 9:30am! One of our CCA  volunteers snapped a quick picture before the events began saying: “the calm before the storm.” Boy was he right!

FEST 2

FEST 1
“The calm before the storm”

 

 

As the day progressed, the line for CCA snow cones grew longer and longer. Luckily for us, we had an amazing team comprised of our Catholic Cemeteries Association employees and their families. With everyone’s help, we were able to keep the line moving quickly while having a great time!

 

 

FEST 4
Look at that line! 

 

 

 

FEST 3
Our snow cone machine hard at work! 

 

After being open for nearly 5 hours, we were able to pass out over 3,000 snow cones, which served as a nice cool down for all of those people sitting out in the sun. It was an amazing way to spend a Sunday afternoon- complete with faith-filled music, a holy atmosphere, and great people. Thank you to everyone who stopped by, as your Catholic Cemeteries Association, we are very happy to be an active member of the Catholic faith community. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!

Do you have a favorite FEST memory? Let us know in the comments!

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

3 things you should know about Catholic cemeteries

When it comes to making a burial decision, the amount of options can be overwhelming. Not only are you expected to decide how you’d like to be buried, what type of service you prefer, and other personal arrangement preferences; but you also must decide where you want to buried. These are all topics you should discuss while preplanning your funeral and burial arrangements. (For more information about preplanning, please visit our previous blog post Preplanning: What is it?).  As a Catholic, it’s very important that you consider burial in a Catholic cemetery. There are differences between Catholic and non-Catholic cemeteries that you need to know before making your decision. Below are 3 things you should know about Catholic cemeteries that can help you make an educated decision on your final resting place.

 

cemetery pic

 

1.Catholic cemeteries are BLESSED 

Unlike secular cemeteries, Catholic cemeteries are considered to be an extension of the Church itself and are therefore considered consecrated grounds. By being buried in a Catholic cemetery, you are assuring that your body or cremated remains will eternally rest on blessed land.

 

2. Catholic cemeteries are MERCIFUL  

As one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, Catholic cemeteries offer prayers for the deceased members of the Catholic community. Catholic cemeteries also celebrate Mass on the grounds as a form of prayer and worship to offer intentions for the dearly departed.

 

3. Catholic cemeteries are FORGIVING  

It is the belief of the Catholic church that reconciliation and forgiveness can be achieved after death, providing all members of the Catholic family the opportunity to be buried on sacred ground.

To learn more about your local Catholic cemeteries and how you can start planning, please visit clecem.org or call 855-852-PLAN(7526).

 

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

 

Preplanning: What is it?

Death is not something anyone enjoys thinking about. It is a very somber and difficult experience to lose a loved one, or think about one’s own mortality. However, as Catholics we know that death is not the final destination, but rather a transition into God’s eternal kingdom. Therefore, death should not be seen as a permanent condition, but rather a necessary evolution on our journey to come home to Christ. Like any other sacred tradition, such as a marriage or a baptism, one’s burial also requires planning and consideration to assure that it follows the teachings of the Catholic Church and the preferences of the individual.

This article addresses some common questions regarding preplanning, Catholic teaching, and how you can get started!

preplanning

1. What is preplanning?

ANSWER: Preplanning is the process and careful deliberation of your end of life arrangements. Preplanning can include anything from your funeral arrangements to your burial preferences. Preplanning is very helpful, and can prevent families from experiencing added emotional and financial stress following the death of a loved one. Normally, preplanning involves the help of a Family Service Representative who will walk you through the process and explain difference choices you have for your burial arrangements.

2. Who needs preplanning?

ANSWER: Nearly everyone can benefit from preplanning, especially those who are reaching middle age and wish to ensure that their final arrangements are taken care of before death. It is never too early to begin preplanning!

3. What are the benefits of preplanning?

ANSWER: There are several benefits to preplanning your final arrangements. First, preplanning your arrangements will prevent your family from experiencing additional stress. Often when a loved one passes away without having their arrangements taken care of in advance, family members are left to make quick and difficult decisions regarding their loved one’s burial. Not only does preplanning prevent this added stress on your family, but it also assures that your wishes are carried out to the fullest extent. Another benefit of preplanning is that you can save you and your family money by purchasing your cemetery products and services such as grave, vault, crypt opening and desired memorial at today’s prices.

4. How is the Catholic faith incorporated into preplanning?

ANSWER: Preplanning your final arrangements guarantees that your burial will be carried out following the teachings of the Catholic church. Also, by preplanning and securing a cemetery plot in a Catholic cemetery, you are reserving a final resting place that is on sacred ground, something secular cemeteries do not offer.

5. How can I start preplanning?

ANSWER: You can get started today by reaching out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate, and experienced Family Service Representatives at 855-85-2PLAN (7526) or by visiting the Catholic Cemeteries Association website at https://www.clecem.org/Information/BeginPrePlanning.aspx

 

Don’t forget to follow the Catholic Cemeteries Association on Facebook!

Post written by Katie Karpinski

What you need to know about disposing of an American flag

 

14712-american-flags-in-a-cemetery-pv.jpg

As our country celebrates the great patriotic holidays of the summer months, such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, it is the great honor of the Cleveland Catholic Cemeteries to facilitate the placement of American flags on the graves of those who have served this country. Hundreds of flags are displayed each holiday, and it is truly inspiring to see just how many dedicated American citizens served their country. However, many people don’t realize what the process is for disposing of these American flags displayed at our cemeteries:

 

The flags are collected by our groundskeepers and placed inside well protected tarps or otherwise acceptable and protected containers. They are then stored until proper disposal can be arranged. At no point does any flag face any sort of damage or disrespect. Once all flags are collected and ready for disposal, they are shipped to one of our cemetery locations to be burned with dignity, which is the most commonly accepted and encouraged method of flag disposal. The ashes are then buried in keeping with proper public teaching on the disposal of the American flag.

 

Catholic Cemeteries Association considers the disposal of American flags as an honor and a privilege, and we are humbled that we are able to perform this service with the very upmost standards

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski