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Connecting Seniors with Care  

Honoring the death of a senior

The death of a senior is traumatic. Families need to be able to grieve and bring closure to the death of the seniors.

We are a society that brushes dying and death aside as it is too painful for us to watch and feel emotionally. Memories of the seniors need to be honored and remembered by people who cared. In addition, it is as important to realize that the physical presence of the senior is gone. This is a major loss that needs to be acknowledged.

Grief and closure of the loss of the physical presence of the senior can be assisted by a funeral service. The funeral is not for the senior who has died as much as it is for the people who have to live on with the senior no longer physically in their lives. Rituals are an important part of life.

There are memorial services that provide a Celebration of Life for the senior but the death of the senior is not acknowledged.

Often every part of the death of the senior is denied. There is no viewing, even a private one for the family. There is no service with the casket present. There is no service at the cemetery when the casket is lowered into the ground and the earth placed on top. Even at the gravesite the mound of earth is covered so that it will not be upsetting. Everything is done to assist the mourners to not lose control of their emotions.

So often the cremated remains of the senior are taken and spread by the family at a location that was special to the senior. Some members of families need a place to visit that acknowledge that this senior lived on this earth. Human beings need this connection. When the cremated remains are spread this connection is lost.

Frequently the senior’s body will go from the hospital to a closed casket at the service without all of the family members or friends having had a chance to view the body. For many people part of the grieving process is seeing the senior’s body.

Cemeteries are scared ground. They are a safe place to evoke emotion. They are locations where generations of families can come to visit and connect with the senior.

Without a place that marks the name and the dates that the senior lived we run the risk of becoming a forgotten generation. This is a disservice to the coming generations. They need a location to go to connect with their ancestors.

Even the obituary allows for the announcement and reality of the death.

Children need the opportunity to grieve and bring closure to the death of the senior. They are not being protected by being kept from the funeral.

After the death of a senior, part of the grieving process is the need to talk about the senior again and again. Friends should not worry about discussing the senior with the families. It will help the person who is grieving.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Sharen Marteny created Seniors Consulting a division of Marteny Seniors Consulting Ltd, which assists families of seniors determine the needs and wants of seniors when living at home is no longer an option. Care Coordination is done for seniors when the family does not live in the area and provides a temporary 24-hour emergency contact to allow families to take a well deserved vacation or respite.

She is a member of the United Way Campaign and focuses on raising funds for registered charities that relate to seniors. She is also on the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission Advisory Board to ensure the products and services that seniors need will be available. Sharen's goal is to ensure that issues relevant to seniors are addressed.

She is a Certified Seniors Advisor with over 25 years experience in management and the seniors' retirement industry.


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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