FrontRunner has given me the wonderful opportunity to write on the topics of grief and bereavement in the process of developing two, year-long email series and a library of related articles.
I am resolute in my belief that I don’t want to write fluff. Instead, it is my intention to provide readers with practical information they can really use. Yet, I know the inspiring and thoughtful insights of others are important so I’ve included words written by both modern and classical authors and philosophers. Their thoughts are an ideal springboard for topical discussion.
Consider this literary quotation written for those in mourning and used to launch a discussion on being prepared for the unexpected (yet repetitive) awareness of loss:
As an anthropologist and licensed funeral director, pursing grief counseling accreditation was a logical next step. Equipped with a quest for knowledge and compassion for those experiencing loss, I enrolled in the American Academy of Grief Counseling, which is part of the American Institute of Health Care Professionals. I earned the certification and while I enjoy seeing the certificate on my office wall, the intellectual value of the course work cannot be underestimated. I truly feel better prepared to tackle the tasks given.
Working with FrontRunner to develop truly practical information, we created the two series of messages: one delivered daily to those in mourning and one delivered weekly to their bereavement allies. The first, titled On the Wings of Grief, offers insights into the work of noted grief specialists like doctors James William Worden, Katherine Walsh, and Joseph Fleming. Additional information comes from author Steven Joseph and his book, What Doesn’t Kill Us: the New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth. His perspective changed the way we look at coping with adversity as explained in a Huffington Post article from early 2013 where he states,
“Those who try to put their lives back together exactly as they were remain fractured and vulnerable. But those who accept the breakage and build themselves anew become more resilient and open to new ways of living.”
The series developed for bereavement allies, In Unfailing Companionship, is built on that same premise. It offers strategies to assist those in mourning achieve positive growth from their bereavement experience. The grief library articles also focus on bereavement as a means to create greater resiliency.
Knowing that loss and bereavement are a pan-human experience, it is important to examine the cross-cultural study of death practices and mourning. Many insightful examples of how people mourn in far-flung corners of the world are included in the series. In one email, readers can learn about the story of the Hmong, an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. This is intended to give perspective on the way other groups mourn and perhaps provide an idea the reader may wish to incorporate in their own bereavement:
“When a death occurs, all work in the family ceases until after the burial. It is believed during the 13 days following their passing, their soul needs assistance from the family. During this time the soul is seen as unable to find their own food, so an extra place is set at the family table at meal time, and the soul invited to join the family for meals.” ~Bruce Thowpaou Bliatout, “Hmong Death Customs: Traditional and Acculturated”, in in Ethnic Variations in Dying, Death and Mourning
Naturally, all sources are cited this way, providing readers access to additional information should they wish to explore the topic in more depth.
The time you spend with families is relatively short, especially in cases of direct cremation. That said, you have the opportunity to continue to have an impact on their lives (and promote the strength of your brand) with bereavement support worthy of their time. When you put their emotional well-being first, they will be quick to return to your firm when death, once again, occurs. They will realize that you care enough to offer unique resources that will truly help them when they need it most.
In her wonderful book The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion said it best: “Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be.” In providing insightful, educational grief support resources, you help the bereaved understand the wide diversity of their grief reactions and strengthen them for the work ahead.
I would like to share a recent message received from a lovely woman who lost her grandson last year and subscribed to the daily series:
“I recently started all over again at the beginning of your series, On The Wings of Grief, because I feel like there is so much more that did not absorb during this past year. And, of course, there were days when I didn’t get around to reading the article on a particular day. It is so evident that this series is a labor of love, as you described it. I enjoy the way you write and find it very clarifying. What you say truly resonates with me. So, deep gratitude for what you have given through this work of yours.”
On the Wings of Grief – Growing Through Loss and In Unfailing Companionship – Sharing Grief’s Journey are both available as apps to apply to your website’s home page. A nominal fee for your firm – free for your community. In seconds, your online visitors can subscribe to either or both series at a time when they are in search of help and guidance. This is a wonderful tool for your families and your communities; it also demonstrates the compassion of your firm.
If you would like more information or would like to apply the apps to your website, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.