Thoughts on Grief

“Grief never ends… but it changes.  It is a passage, not a place to stay.  Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith… it is the price of love.” – Author Unknown

We have all experienced grief in one way or another and it is very different for each person.  Some people feel a sense of peace and relief that their loved one is no longer suffering and in pain.  While others are inconsolable because the person they love was taken from this earth before they could live a full life.  Both of these types of people, and all of those in between, must travel through their grief and sorrow. It takes time for the pain to become less intense even though it will never go away.

When I trained to be a Life Celebrant, Doug Manning told our group that a funeral gives us permission to begin the grieving process.  A funeral is the place where people feel safe to express their grief and remember the person who has died. As funeral professionals, we witness grief every day, but that does not make us immune to it.  We do everything we can to provide that safe place and arrange for a meaningful farewell to the deceased. In Doug’s blog post, found here, he talks about the importance of keeping someone alive by remembering them.  Never be afraid to mention someone who has died to their loved one for fear you will remind them of that person.  They are already thinking of them. You may just remind them of a happy memory and bring a smile to their face.

In a previous blog post, I told the story of when my mother died.  Unfortunately, I was doing the business of the funeral (she had not pre- arranged) instead of grieving her death.  It wasn’t until nearly nine months later that I started the grieving process. I remember being too busy to grieve.  I was too busy to allow the emotions of my mother’s death to work through me. When I finally had to let all of that emotion out, I was very lucky to be with people that love and support me.  I was very fortunate that I finally worked through it all.

These days’ funerals look very different than they did years ago.  Many people choose to be cremated and placed in a columbarium, or cremated and buried.  Often, there is a memorial service without clergy. In our communities of the Ohio Valley, we still have quite a few people that choose to be buried traditionally with full visitation and viewing with the formal church service to follow.  There are families that ask for a butterfly or balloon release as part of their celebration of life for their loved one. All of these things are right. There is no wrong way to grieve the loss of a loved one. In this time of modern families that also look very different than they did years ago, I believe it is even more important that we come together on a special day to mourn the loss of our loved ones.  We must stop and take the time from our busy lives to acknowledge that there was a person that walked this earth that will be missed and never forgotten. It can be elaborate and extensive or it can be simple and intimate. Again, there is no wrong way to let the world know someone important to you has died.

We are fortunate in the Ohio Valley because we have compassionate and caring funeral professionals at Altmeyer Funeral Homes to help you design the most appropriate funeral service for your loved one.  In addition, we have created a comprehensive directory of local groups that help people through specific types of grief. Please visit our Web site here for a list of groups.


Sarah Barickman is an outreach director and life celebrant at Altmeyer Funeral Homes and CARE Funeral & Cremation Specialists in the Ohio Valley.  She and her husband, Mike, have lived in Wheeling for 18 years, where they have been raising their two children, Lilly & Haden.  Sarah is a collector of people, she has never met a stranger and will always strive to be of service to others.