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It's hard to know what to expect and what emotions will emerge when a loved one dies, but you can help prepare your family and friends as much as possible for your own death. Such conversations are difficult, to be sure. But if you help prepare your loved ones while you are still alive and healthy, they may be more well-equipped to manage their grief and healing after you are gone. You should also prepare your finances well ahead of time so your loved ones won't have to experience the stress of financial worry during their time of mourning.
Strength in numbers
While there's comfort to be found in your own community, your loved ones might benefit from a support group of people similarly affected by loss. You can gather a list of support groups in your area that are geared towards people who are similar to your loved ones, be it adult children, parents or siblings. You can then include this list with your other important estate papers.
Amelia found comfort from a young widow's support group. She considered it a lifesaver during the dark months after Manny's death, she says.
“It helped a little bit to stop feeling like I was some sort of freak, to meet other people like me," she says.
The gift of time
In our fast-paced times, people may feel they should move on quickly following a loss. But grief can take time, and your loved ones should anticipate a potentially long journey. Help them understand that everyone heals on their own timetable, and they don't need to rush.
For Amelia, the turning point was a pilgrimage she went on in Spain two years after Manny died. As she walked the Camino de Santiago, Amelia realized she was ready to let him go.
“It didn't mean that I would love him any less, not for a minute. It didn't mean that anything was different, except that I accepted it," she says.
After this realization, she was more easily able to move on with her life. After she joined a chorus, she met Marc, whom she eventually married. They now have a baby boy.