Honoring a Loved One through Funeral Personalization - Transcribed

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Local Resources to Help With the Grief Journey Transcript

[00:00:00] Pete Waggoner: Welcome once again to another Good Grief podcast with the O’Connell Family Funeral Homes. We’re joined by Amber Miller on today’s podcast, and today we’re gonna be talking about local resources and how you can utilize those to help our grief. Amber, I’m looking forward to getting into this topic because I think, you know, my broad brush view is everybody goes through grief in different ways, and sometimes you don’t know where to go or what to do. 

[00:00:32] And I think this is really just great example of there’s more than just a simple thing. I mean, there’s a lot of things out there that you can do to help yourself and your family through this process.

[00:00:41] So can you tell us a little bit about what you have just from an overview, at your disposal to help families that come to your O’Connell Family Funeral Homes? 

[00:00:51] Amber Miller: Yeah. You know, I think our website is always a great resource because we do update that often with local resources and whatnot.

[00:00:58] But we get that [00:01:00] often a question, you know, where can I go, what can I do not only to help myself through grief, but maybe it’s a friend of yours that’s experienced a loss, how can I help them? You know, I think a lot of people always ask, what can I do to help? And there’s just so much unknown about some things that can really help, and a lot of places are very local to us.

[00:01:19] Pete Waggoner: And putting those together, obviously you have to have some form of trust, right? You know, because obviously, they’ve been, let’s say battle tested or you’ve had a lot of good response from people that have been there, so, if you’re putting that up on your website, recommending these types of things that we’ll get into a little bit later, those are all things that you trust, obviously.

[00:01:38] And so those that are coming to you, trust you as well. And then they’ll know they’ll be in good hands.

[00:01:44] Amber Miller: Absolutely. Yep. Yep. They’re definitely local organizations that are near and dear to us, and places that have definitely helped not only the Grievers, but the friends of the Grievers.

[00:01:55] Pete Waggoner: What common of things do people need when they go through the grieving process? [00:02:00] 

[00:02:00] Amber Miller: Well, I think that a lot of people may not think of the whole bit of it in terms of grief. So I always think, think mind, body, spirit and community. So, you know, just kind of starting with spirit, you know, seeking out the assistance of your local pastor, whether that’s attending church services, or having one-on-one conversations with them, that’s what they’re there for. That’s what they’re trained for. That’s part of their role and job just like us as funeral directors. 

[00:02:28] So I think for a lot of people, even attending additional church functions, whether that’s Bible studies or volunteering through the church or other church led groups and events you know, hearing from people who are grieving, a lot of them come, you know, after you see them after the funeral say, you know, I got involved in these church programs and that’s really helped kind of build this sense of community for myself. And community is so huge with grief. Other people’s support and having people around you is immensely impactful in the process. 

[00:02:58] Pete Waggoner: Well, so really [00:03:00] what you’re saying is, you take care of the spirit first, you know, you’re spiritual, then you can get to the other components of it and really it sounds like it starts from where a place of worship would be or other type functions like that.

[00:03:13] What if, and this is off the script, I’m just gonna ask, what if church isn’t for someone and they haven’t done much of it? How do you kind of direct that type of conversation? 

[00:03:25] Amber Miller: Yeah. If church is not a part of your life or faith, I don’t think that that’s a problem in any way. There’s definitely multiple facets to grief.

[00:03:33] So just because maybe faith or the spirit isn’t part of your world, doesn’t mean that the other facets aren’t a big part. So for some that means maybe trying, trying it out and trying church and for others it’s not. And focusing on more the mind, the body, and the community aspect. 

[00:03:50] Pete Waggoner: Well, and on the spiritual, the first thing I thought of on the spirit, part of it was, I’m sure this is a great place to start if you want to, you know, get a little more engaged with it because you [00:04:00] know, there’s nothing, you know, more immediate than that type of conversation with a member of clergy to do that with.

[00:04:05] And that’s that, you know, to not be shy and afraid to do that that’s probably not a bad idea. But then after you do that, you can turn toward your body and there’s some things that you can do. So you kind of just don’t fall to waste, right? Because you’re bummed out. You need to take care of the body part too, right?

[00:04:21] Amber Miller: Oh yeah. That’s huge. You know, and it doesn’t need to be something as intense as starting a gym membership if that’s not something that you’re able to do. But think about something that’s maybe more low impact, whether that’s yoga. For me, I feel like I need to start like a membership or buy a pack of classes to kind of hold me accountable to doing those and to get me motivated for the next week’s session.

[00:04:47] Cause I think that starting is where the most difficult part is, but once you kind of get into the flow. But even for the really, really low impact, think like mindfulness coaching. I mean, we have a couple of organizations locally here in St. Croix County that [00:05:00] work primarily on that, whether it’s breathing or meditation, so something even as low impact as that.

[00:05:05] But also utilizing the things that are around us and what makes St. Croix County beautiful. Hiking. We have amazing state parks, whether that’s Willow River State Park, or Kinnic State Park or even right across the border in Minnesota, William O’Brien or Afton State Park, getting out there and getting some fresh air.

[00:05:22] You know, people always talk about the benefit of the fresh air, the sunshine even if there’s no sun out, and it’s overcast. The moods kind of stabilizers that are impacted by fresh air and being outdoors is huge. Even if it’s a short 10, 15, 20 minutes a day.

[00:05:38] Pete Waggoner: No matter what, even if you’re grieving or not. That sounds like a great plan to me, Amber. I mean, oh, absolutely. You know, I mean, yeah. Even if you’re not there and you’re just happy to be listening to this podcast, I think if you and I can spark someone to do one of those things.

[00:05:51] You know, one of the things that stands out to me is breathing exercises, because we see that anxiety is such a big part of society, and I think it’s [00:06:00] been elevated through the whole covid scenario and you know, there’s just more of it. 

[00:06:05] I really do believe that that is such a great source of just inner calm. Through broadcasting, we used to have to take a lot of breathing classes and things like that, so I’m a little bit aware of it and I think that is one of the most underrated aspects of life that people can take advantage of for sure. 

[00:06:25] So I think it’s awesome that you mentioned that. And typically when we think of caring for your mind, like I do anyway, I think of that as seeing a counselor or some form of therapy. But in your world, you’re seeing, hey, there’s some other things that you can do to care for your mind instead of just going straight to therapy.

[00:06:42] Amber Miller: Right. And unfortunately there’s such a stigma with regards to therapy and counseling and I am always a huge advocate for it. But there are definitely other kinds of avenues that people can pursue if that’s not something that they’re at right now. Again, tons of local counselors in the area that are fantastic. So please check out our website. We [00:07:00] do have a list of those that really specialize in grief and loss. 

[00:07:03] But if you’re looking at something else that helps kind of care for your mind, journaling, I know we’ve talked about it in a previous podcast before. But journaling is huge and can really help kind of get out those emotions, get them from pen to paper.

[00:07:16] That can be something that you reflect on throughout the course of your grief journey. That can be something that you write letters to your deceased loved ones or even something that you just get all the words down on the paper and then you tear off the paper and throw it away. So it’s definitely a very therapeutic way to process our grief and emotions.

[00:07:34] Pete Waggoner: You know, I always say journalings, getting it out and getting it on, you know, getting it on that paper. Right. And you get it out and then you can do what you wish with it. And, you know, I don’t know if you’ve ever done this. Have you done much journaling, Amber, in your past? 

[00:07:45] Amber Miller: A little bit. Yeah. It’s definitely helped, so I need to get back into it, that’s for sure.

[00:07:49] Pete Waggoner: Have you ever kept it and then gone back and looked? 

[00:07:52] Amber Miller: Yes, I have. Especially in my younger years, kind of. And then I take a break from journaling and come back and just seeing the change in [00:08:00] progression that I make throughout just my thought process and just seeing like what struggles I had back then and maybe how I find them to not be as much of a struggle nowadays.

[00:08:09] Pete Waggoner: It’s so funny how the growth you can look and see, boy, I was there and I’ve got here. It’s so incredible. And then, you know, what kind of feeds that can be all these other things that you’re talking about. So as far as online community websites and those types of things, what would be a typical type of website that you would dig out to find?

[00:08:28] Amber Miller: Well, our website is a great resource, especially for books. So we have a whole list on our website under resources of really great books that really deal specifically on grief and loss. And you can go to a variety of local bookstores that we have here that you can pick up those books. We also have some really great websites on our own website that have, you know, forums and blogs that people either interact with each other, so grievers throughout the entire country or just individual blogs and resources as well that you can read specifically maybe around the holiday [00:09:00] season, which we’re in right now. Or just other big events, mother’s Day, father’s Day, all of those things.

[00:09:04] Pete Waggoner: Yeah. We get into community. There’s such a vast array of what that could mean. So when we drill that down into the grieving process, how do you see that focusing into this topic? 

[00:09:16] Amber Miller: Community is probably one of the biggest things that we can really focus on in terms of our grief. You know, think about like our grief support group that we host multiple times a year.

[00:09:25] That’s a huge part of community. And even long after the eight week sessions are done, people are still connecting years, years later. And there, there’s friendships that form and just a real sense of like trust and unity amongst, amongst complete strangers, essentially. Think about too like Meetups.

[00:09:42] There’s a lot that kind of are held either in St. Croix County or right over the river. And these can be things that are not necessarily grief related. So maybe you wanna take up hiking or you wanna take up knitting or any sort of hobby. There’s, if you go to meet up on a website, you can join these [00:10:00] amazing groups and meet new friends and new community.

[00:10:04] But also too, you know, volunteering. I think we’ve talked about it in a couple of podcasts in the past, but volunteering is huge and can be super beneficial to those that are grieving. And we have so many amazing organizations in St. Croix County that could use volunteers. Food shelf and animal shelters.

[00:10:22] Maybe it’s just going in, walking dogs or if you feel so inclined, fostering an animal. Nursing homes and care centers, a lot of them could use a lot of companionship and maybe that’s just a way to give back. Hospices are always looking for volunteers as well, for some of their patients, or even in schools local organizations in St. Croix County, like Grace Place or Operation Help, or United Way or Backpack Programs. There’s so many amazing organizations that we can really breed our sense of, of community when we’re grieving. 

[00:10:49] Pete Waggoner: When you do that, obviously there must be a form of, you know, you mentioned helping others and they may not be in the grief process that you are, [00:11:00] but there can become a peace and a calm that comes together with that.

[00:11:03] When you do that, I mean, I don’t know if we do that enough as a society, I think if everybody stopped and did that, that would be an absolutely incredible thing. And this would be such a mellow place to be. It’d be unbelievable. But I think it’s easy to get caught into our own worlds and just introspectively go to me and me and then forget about all of these things. 

[00:11:23] And then just the incredible feeling of satisfaction of helping others, I think it’s immeasurable. Have you noticed those that have done that? Has this guided them through the process with a little bit more clarity? Have you noticed that as a common thing for people that do the volunteering and getting engaged?

[00:11:42] Amber Miller: I have. And oftentimes too, community starts with just another person. So I hear it often, especially after our grief group sessions are over, that people form a sense of bond with someone else, and then that gives them maybe the courage to do something different that they normally wouldn’t have done in [00:12:00] the past.

[00:12:00] So I do hear of often of grief support people doing a lot of volunteer work, doing a lot of other community driven activities, and them coming back and really relaying that, whether they come to the next grief support session or I just see them out and about in the community. Talking about how amazing that has been for not only their grieving, but like I said, the sense of community and being able to help others in times of need as well. 

[00:12:25] Pete Waggoner: Well, it’s really okay to laugh too, right? Sometimes I think we, we get so bummed out and so focused on that. I mean, laughing is such a, a huge therapy.

[00:12:36] Amber Miller: Yeah, and I think especially in the beginning parts of grief, we’re kind of scared too.

[00:12:40] You know should I be laughing at this time? Is this an appropriate time to laugh? Really, laughter helps increase all of those positive chemicals and hormones in our body and helps us get through some really difficult times. And we’re blessed in this community that we have some great organizations that help us, whether that’s local theater is really big in St. Croix County. So getting [00:13:00] out there, bringing a friend, family member, supporting those local like you know, musicians and actors and actresses and just artists in general to really see what they have, and then we could all laugh 

[00:13:11] together. 

[00:13:12] Pete Waggoner: And then how about friends of those that are grieving, what resources can they provide to help those that they care about?

[00:13:18] I’ve talked about this many times in past podcasts where we really, you don’t know what to do or where to go. So what are some of the things for friends of friends that are grieving? 

[00:13:31] Amber Miller: Yeah. So really, you utilize those local businesses in the area, whether that’s, you know, flower shops, which we, we see often at funerals, but maybe sending them something post funeral.

[00:13:42] So a little small token that you’re thinking of them, whether it’s a little bouquet or a succulent. And a lot of the local florists have other things that are not plant and flower related. So wind chimes we see often which is so nice because then they can hear the, the dinging when the breeze and it reminds them of their loved one.

[00:13:59] We [00:14:00] have some amazing shops in St. Croix County, whether that’s downtown Hudson or Baldwin or, or kind of the surrounding communities. Think of like a little token or a little kind of handheld gift that can remind them of their loved one. Or, you know, think about getting a picture frame of their loved one framed or glassblowers.

[00:14:18] We have so many amazing artisans in the area that can create a really meaningful piece for your friend or for your family member that’s lost a loved one. 

[00:14:26] Pete Waggoner: Then obviously you can do meals as well. Other types of gift cards wouldn’t be bad either. 

[00:14:32] Amber Miller: Yeah, I think you know, we hear it often, especially after someone has a baby and starting a meal train.

[00:14:37] But the same can be said for someone after a loss. Cooking for one, depending on the situation, can be really difficult. And cooking in general after a loss can be a real struggle for some. So even lining up a meal train with community, kind of going back to that community discussion, but think about, you know, getting them a gift card or something that they can get some takeout from a restaurant. Something that makes it easy for [00:15:00] them to be able to eat well and healthy during this time.

[00:15:03] But then also think about other avenues, not just food related. So maybe it’s a gift card to the local oil change center to help with their vehicle or the grocery store or any sort of professional services.

[00:15:14] Maybe they need like a handyman around the house to be able to do some repairs or any other professional services. We have a lot of great businesses in the area that help with those things. 

[00:15:25] Pete Waggoner: Another great thing you could do for a friend is refer ’em to the Good Grief Podcast and they should listen to the local resources podcast and others because then they’ll be able to follow through all these things.

[00:15:35] And while you’re doing that, you’re engaging with the person. Another thing you can do is offer to go a grief support group or a meetup somehow. And having someone along your side can sometimes give you, I would guess, a sense of security and calm. 

[00:15:51] Amber Miller: For sure. Yeah. I think, you know, we mentioned a little bit earlier, but having an additional person kind of gives us the courage to be able to move a step forward or in a [00:16:00] direction.

[00:16:00] So we see it often in grief support groups for people, maybe the first session, bring a friend with them, and oftentimes we have all experienced loss at some point. So even if the loss isn’t as immediate as maybe your friend’s is, going to a group support is beneficial as well for you, not just for them.

[00:16:16] So we see it often that people bring a friend. Same thing with, you know, those meetups that we were talking about or volunteering. Just helping them along to do the first step. That hard step about starting a class or doing a grief support group is sometimes all it takes. 

[00:16:31] Pete Waggoner: Now a place to go obviously is your website.

[00:16:34] We referred to it earlier, the http://oconnellfuneralhomes.com/. By the way, the website looks absolutely fantastic. I’m loving what I’m seeing here. It’s very clean. You can get to whatever you need to, and it’s image heavy. So it makes me feel comfortable when I look at it. This is just me.

[00:16:51] It’s really kind of the first time I’ve looked at it in a while, and Amber, it’s on point. Looking sharp. 

[00:16:57] Amber Miller: Well, thank you. Yeah, we really liked it. It was [00:17:00] definitely something we wanted it to be easy for the people to go to and find what they need. And that resources tab right at the top gets you to all of these resources that we’ve been talking about today.

[00:17:10] So whether that’s accessing our podcasts that we’ve shared in the past, our blogs, our grief resources, you know, all those books, local grief support groups, all of that is under that resources tab. And it’s an amazing place to go whether you’re grieving or you’re looking for something to help someone else who’s grieving.

[00:17:26] But also too, our social media. We post often on our Facebook and Instagram pages, especially when it comes to our grief support groups. We’re always posting those on our social media just to make sure that we get the word out about those who wanna participate. 

[00:17:40] Pete Waggoner: That is awesome.

[00:17:40] So be sure to follow on Facebook and Instagram. Everything’s there. Your website’s really on it and this is a great topic. This affects everybody as most of our topics do. But this is a very important thing for us, I think. To have tools and resources, and this is a great summary, so we appreciate your walking us through this, Amber, and we’re excited as always [00:18:00] to continue through these podcasts because they’re so topic friendly and right on point as always.

[00:18:05] So thanks for joining us here today and I’m sure we’ll be back with another one soon. 

[00:18:10] Amber Miller: All right, thanks, Pete. 

[00:18:11] Pete Waggoner: That’s gonna do it for this edition of The Good Grief Podcast for Amber Miller. I’m Pete Waggoner. So long everybody.