The Acute Loss Period – Stage Four: The Gathering Phase

Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the days and weeks that follow are deeply emotional and highly charged. Life comes to a standstill. Unfamiliar emotions take hold, and the pain can feel suffocating. Here at Cypress Lawn Funeral Home, we meet with Bay Area families every day who are in a state of shock or numbness as they come to us for help in planning a funeral, burial, or cremation.

Our team meets with many people who say they are trying to set their feelings aside until the service is over. They readily admit their grief is so severe they can’t process their emotions with everything else going on. But doing so can negatively impact the healing process in many ways – and even permanently derail the path to healing.

These moments right after a loved one dies until the grief sets in are significant to how a person heals and moves on with their life. This time, called the Acute Loss Period, is so crucial that we created a free brochure, available as a hard copy or a downloadable PDF, outlining the seven stages after a loss.

To offer families a more thorough look at each stage, we are publishing a blog article to further describe each one. Our first post addressed the first stage in the Acute Loss Period, “The Hearing Phase,” which begins the moment loved ones hear about the death. The second stage, “The Sharing Phase,” occurs as friends and family members call one another to tell the story of how their loved one died. Then comes “The Seeing Phase,” an opportunity to express the love you have for the person who died, while offering support for others experiencing the loss.

This brings us to the fourth step and the focus of this blog, “The Gathering Phase,” as friends and family step away from their busy lives and come together for a visitation, funeral, graveside service, and reception. This show of support is crucial as grief starts to take hold. Death often leaves a large hole, and the presence of family and friends is invaluable. Funerals bring people together who may not have seen each other for a long time, and a funeral reception gives the opportunity to talk, laugh, cry, and reconnect.

Many people aren’t aware that around 70% of those attending a funeral don’t actually know the person who died, but rather someone in the family. Planning a visitation, funeral, or reception  gives you a sense of control over when and where you talk to others about your loss. In a sense, this puts you in charge of your emotions, allowing you to address your loss on your terms.

Psychologists and grief counselors agree that a ceremony can be a healing experience, helping survivors move through their grief, share treasured memories, and hear how lives were touched by a loved one. In fact, the very act of planning a funeral can bring healing after a loss. Choosing favorite songs, preparing words to share, or putting together a memory table to display a beloved hobby helps you reminisce and heal.

This moves us into the fifth stage of the Acute Loss Period, “The Connecting Phase,” which we will describe in the next installment of this special blog series. If you are grieving a loss and would like additional assistance, we encourage you to reach out to us at any time or access our aftercare tools online. The weeks and months after the funeral are often hardest; let us support you when you need it most.