There are many reasons you might not be able to attend the funeral of a loved one, but perhaps the most difficult to accept is distance. Whether you can’t afford the trip or have obligations that prevent your attendance, grieving from afar is never easy. There are ways, however, to begin the process, even if you can’t be there to say goodbye.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
There is no way around sadness associated with loss. And though it’s tempting, don’t try to ignore your feelings by focusing on other things. You will not grieve faster nor will your anguish diminish by bottling your emotions. In fact, keeping your feelings at bay can actually make things worse for you long-term. Not giving yourself the chance to release your feelings will keep them buried just below the surface but always lingering over every moment.
Find a Positive Outlet
While you should not ignore your feelings, you should find a productive way to channel your emotions so that you may better cope with your loss. This is especially important when you aren’t in close enough proximity to help with funeral arrangements or to simply seek comfort with others who share your pain. Consider taking up painting or writing in a journal as a way to get you through those moments when all hope seems lost.
Learn to Manage Your Stress
Chances are, if you’re unable to attend a loved one’s funeral, you’re under a fair amount of stress and anxiety. If left unchecked, these emotions could lead to dangerous health problems, including high blood pressure. To help reduce stress, even if just a little, it’s important to look for techniques you can incorporate into your day. For example, you might decide to take up meditation or spend some time doing yoga. However, if you don’t have the time or energy for those activities, look into the benefits of stretching. Doing simple moves (lower back stretches, neck rolls, chin tucks, etc.) can release tension, improve your circulation, relax your muscles, and even boost your energy levels throughout the day.
Keep Up Communication
Fortunately, we live in a world where we can stay in contact with our loved ones 24/7 without ever having to step foot outside of our home. One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family is staying in touch. This will help not only you through this trying time but will be of comfort to others. Video calls will allow you to have some valuable face time so that you can discuss your memories of and feelings related to the deceased. Apps such as Marco Polo will even let you send and receive video messages when real-time communication isn’t possible. These messages are even more valuable when you are in a remarkably different time zone than those with whom you need to remain in contact.
It might sound selfish, but you must learn to put yourself first throughout the grieving process. The American Cancer Society reports that grieving individuals often succumb to their intense emotions and withdraw socially, experience depression, and even feel guilty or blame themselves for the loss. You can prevent many negative behaviors by remembering that you still have your own life to live. Monitor yourself for behaviors such as isolation, drug, and alcohol use, poor hygiene, and preoccupation with death. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you find yourself getting lost in a bad place emotionally.
As hard as it is to accept, death is something that waits for no one. You cannot postpone the death of a loved one or bring them back so that you can be there for their passing. All you can do now is honor their memory and keep them close to your heart. Even a small memorial is a meaningful way to remember your loved one that can help you through the mourning process. No matter how you choose to mourn or how far away you may be, grief is a part of life and one that we must all inevitably experience. Stay in touch with your surviving loved ones and remember the dearly departed in your own special way. This will abate your misery and help you lead your own healthy and productive life.