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FAQ's

1. The most difficult thing for me is the loneliness.  How can I ever overcome it?
 
2. There are days when I can't think or function adequately.  Am I losing my mind?
 
3. Is it normal to see the deceased person in a crowd or familiar place?
 
4. My sister (who was very stable) is having a difficult time with her grief.  Is that psychosomatic?
 
5. Why is it generally thought that the loss of a child is the hardest thing one ever has to endure?
 
6. My father died last year.  We were very close and I miss him so much but I got through the bad times fairly soon after his death.  I'm surprised that I've adjusted to being without him so soon.  Is it wrong to feel that I'm through grieving?
 
7. My neighbours wife died recently.  I want to help him but I don't know what to  say.
 
8. I lost my darling daughter a few months ago.  I try not to think about her anymore.  It's just too painful.
 
9. I resent having so much responsibility with the many things my husband use to handle?  How do I get past these feelings?
 
10. I always thought I was pretty independent and had good self esteem.  Since my husband died, I seem to have no confidence left.  What happened to me?
 
11. I am several months past my loss.  Most days I do very well.  Then all of a sudden I become overwhelmed.  It causes me to feel sad and depressed all over again.  Is this normal?
 
12. Our son was killed in an auto accident because he was drinking and driving.  It happened so suddenly.  I can't get over my anger at the senselessness of his behaviour.  What can I do?
 
13. I find my friends seldom mention my husband who died only seven months ago.  Why is this?
 
14. A friend of mine recently had a miscarriage.  I'm sorry for her but she is carrying on as if she had raised this child for several years.  Isn't that an over reaction?
 
15. My friend has been widowed over six months and is still moping around.  Shouldn't she be getting over this soon?
 
16. I have this fear of forgetting my loved one now that he is gone.  Laughing and socializing with friends seems somehow disloyal.
 
17. Recently widowed, I'm noticing some of my women friends act 'funny' when I'm around their husbands.  How could I be a threat?
 
18. Sometimes I feel like I'll burst if I can't stop thinking about my loss.  Will these feelings ever go away?
 
19. Our seven -year- old nephew died suddenly as a result of an auto accident.  I was rather shocked when my sister gave permission for his organs to be transplanted.  Is this a common practice?
 
20. My sister died last summer in a boating accident.  I looked up to her and counted on her a lot.  My Dad keeps telling me, "Don't cry.  It will upset your mother." but inside I'm crying all the time.  What should I do?
 
21. Is it possible to find the closeness, nearness and intimacy I need without being sexual?  Since my husband died this problem has been overwhelming.
 
22. My husband died last year just after a short illness.  He was much older than I and we had been married only two years.  I sense that there is less empathy for me than for other widows who have a longer history with the man they loved.  Am I just over reacting?
 

Question #1The most difficult thing for me is the loneliness.  How can I ever overcome it?
Answer:Because  of the suddenness of being alone, the need for closeness, communication and companionship is very great.  These needs surface just after a death when most people have little energy or desire to socialize.  It is not uncommon that the loneliest folks of all are turning down invitations  from friends because they are afraid to be in a crowd as a "fifth wheel", or afraid they'll cry at some inappropriate time, or simply don't feel like getting dressed  and going out.  Refusing to isolate yourself is the first step towards overcoming loneliness.  Forcing one's self to be out among the living can have a number of rewards.

Question #2There are days when I can't think or function adequately.  Am I losing my mind?
Answer:Feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, or disorganization are often present during the grieving process.  Your ability to concentrate may be severely hampered.  Do as much as you can to reestablish a normal daily routine.  Try keeping lists and calendar notes to remind you of things.  Your mind is flooded with the thoughts of your new-found circumstances but as your grieving process progresses, your usual thought processes will return.  Be patient with yourself.  Remember that you are healing.

Question #3Is it normal to see the deceased person in a crowd or familiar place?
Answer:Yes, at times we are so preoccupied with thoughts of that person that our imagination works overtime.  Also, we are so used to 'seeing him sitting  in his favorite chair' etc. that our mind's eye conjures up the vision.  Sometimes this can be a comfort, sometimes it's rather frightening.  In most cases it is a temporary state of mind, and how it affects us depends on our attitude.


Question #4My sister (who was very stable) is having a difficult time with her grief.  Is that psychosomatic?
Answer:Grief has a purpose and a healing function.   Sometimes the pain appears to be intolerable for some individuals.  Most specialists agree that the acutal process cannot proceed and reach completion without some degree of suffering.  Be certain that your sister has someone to listen to her expressions of pain and encourage her to keep busy and useful.  The period of acuity usually passes within a few weeks.


Question #5Why is it generally thought that the loss of a child is the hardest thing one ever has to endure?
Answer:Losing a child is one of the single most  painful experiences a family can face.  Frequently an overwhelming rage over takes the parents because the experience seems totally contrary to all of their goals, values and plans.  When a death is untimely it seems more unnatural and that makes it much more difficult to believe  - or bear.

Question #6My father died last year.  We were very close and I miss him so much but I got through the bad times fairly soon after his death.  I'm surprised that I've adjusted to being without him so soon.  Is it wrong to feel that I'm through grieving?
Answer:No, not at all.  The bereavement reaction to the loss of a parent is generally less traumatic for most people.  This is certainly not because we value them less or love them less than others, but it is expected that our parents will die before us and when the order is maintained, there is more logic and reason connected with the event.  Also, we are busy with adult lives of our own and have moved to the role of being depended upon rather than being dependent.  Our loss  is great and flooded with sentimental longing for the past in many cases.  Researchers know that the death of a parent is a serious life event which can lead to a measurable degree of symptomatic distress.  The course of bereavement is generally resolved in a shorter time and with completeness.

Question #7My neighbours wife died recently.  I want to help him but I don't know what to  say.
Answer:Friends often avoid the subject of the deceased because they fear creating an emotional reaction in the one who is grieving.  More often than not, mentioning the loss is a real sign of caring.  It can be comforting to the griever and afford him the opportunity to express some genuine feelings.  Do not hesitate to use the name of the deceased when talking with the survivor-spouse.  This facilitates the grief process.  No one wants their loved ones to be forgotten.

Question #8I lost my darling daughter a few months ago.  I try not to think about her anymore.  It's just too painful.
Answer:Avoidance of the pain of grief or suppression of the emotion connected with loss can lead to complications of the grieving process.  Please find a professional counselor who can guide you through some appropriate expression of emotion.  It takes courage to face pain and to learn how to cope with it, but it will be healthier for you in the long run.

Question #9I resent having so much responsibility with the many things my husband use to handle?  How do I get past these feelings?
Answer:Learning new tasks and assuming responsibilities that we had psychologically assigned to someone else can produce feelings of anger, resentment, frustration and despair.  If we continue to think of these jobs as "his" work we will likely be defeated.  Try to change the way you approach the tasks.  Accept learning new things as an opportunity to broaden your knowledge base, then congratulate yourself each time you successfully complete a job.

Question #10 I always thought I was pretty independent and had good self esteem.  Since my husband died, I seem to have no confidence left.  What happened to me?
Answer:When we lose the person we counted on to reassure us about ourselves, we may falter since that assurance is gone.  Now you must give yourself credit for your achievements.  Now you must compliment yourself on the efforts you make.  Nothing will boost your confidence more than rewarding the work of others, so be generous with your compliments about the good things that you see others doing.  Simply put, now you must take over the support your spouse gave to you.  You must give it to yourself and also pass it along to others.  You'll find your confidence rising steadily.

Question #11I am several months past my loss.  Most days I do very well.  Then all of a sudden I become overwhelmed.  It causes me to feel sad and depressed all over again.  Is this normal?
Answer:Yes, it is.  Let's say that grief can be analogous to waves on the shore.  At first, the waves knock us down.  They can keep us down for awhile, too.  As the grief work is accomplished, the waves subside to a degree.  They batter us less often and they decrease in size and impact.  When we haven't noticed any waves for awhile, we know that we are succeeding in looking forward and rebuilding our lives.   It often happens near special days, like birthdays, anniversaries or holidays or just a sentimental moment of remembrance can bring on another wave.  If we know this is normal and part of our grief process, we can recover from the wave sooner and expect fewer of them in our future.

Question #12Our son was killed in an auto accident because he was drinking and driving.  It happened so suddenly.  I can't get over my anger at the senselessness of his behaviour.  What can I do?
Answer:When our loss occurs without warning, without logic or reason, these feelings are common.  We feel the death was preventable.  Try writing your son a letter.  Tell him all the things you are feeling and about this pain your feelings are causing you.  Be as frank and honest as you can be.  Keep your letter and add to it as you feel the need to add new thoughts or feelings.  I encourage people to write out their feelings.  Keeping a journal is a very  effective form of therapy when our emotions are so complex and so intense.  After several months of recording feelings in a journal, reading back over them gives us a mark by which we can measure our progress.

Question #13I find my friends seldom mention my husband who died only seven months ago.  Why is this?
Answer: As the time of bereavement goes on, your friends see you recovering.  They are afraid of upsetting you by mentioning your loss and thus bringing back your sadness.  Also, if they make you cry  or show emotion, they become perplexed about how to react to you.  If you need to speak of  your husband with your friends, tell them so.  Start with relating a humerous story about him.  This shows your friends that you are ready and able to include your husband in your conversation and to do so without the display of emotion that makes them feel  uncomfortable.

Question #14A friend of mine recently had a miscarriage.  I'm sorry for her but she is carrying on as if she had raised this child for several years.  Isn't that an over reaction?
Answer: Whenever a baby dies, the experience for the mother is always traumatic.  In both situations, mothers report that they experience a birth and death simultaneously.  Regardless of the cause of death, parents feel they have lost a part of themselves, as well as their link to the future.  They also often feel that no one will remember their baby and that their feelings of pain and sadness are in vain.

Question #15My friend has been widowed over six months and is still moping around.  Shouldn't she be getting over this soon?
Answer: It is important to remember that grief is a highly individual experience and can vary in intensity and duration.  Such factors as personality, determination, life's experiences and the relationship to the  deceased are some of the factors that determine the length of the grief process.


Question #16I have this fear of forgetting my loved one now that he is gone.  Laughing and socializing with friends seems somehow disloyal.
Answer:So many people fail to get on with life because of the feelings you describe.  Be assured that you will never forget someone who was so much a part of your life.  After a while , the good memories grow dearer and the not so good ones will fade.  No one can take from you the time you shared with this person.  Often it makes us feel guilty to be alive when new opportunities come our way and we begin to accept new joy and happiness.  It's called 'survivor's guilt'.  But remember that this is a normal reaction, and it soon will pass.


Question #17Recently widowed, I'm noticing some of my women friends act 'funny' when I'm around their husbands.  How could I be a threat?
Answer:There are women who feel adding a single woman to their couples crowd presents a threat.  There are many reasons for these feelings.  Sometimes it is because they are insecure in their own marriages, but often it's because they see you as a widow now and worry about how they will survive a loss like yours.  As much as they care for you, you represent something they'd rather not think about.  Yes, it seems irrational and unfair but it's common.  Not all your friends will behave like this.  Spend more time with those who welcome and support you.

Question #18Sometimes I feel like I'll burst if I can't stop thinking about my loss.  Will these feelings ever go away?
Answer:Yes.  Preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased is one phase of grief.  You feel as if you can think of nothing else, night and day.  At first this feeling occurs because we need to make sense of what has happened.  Until we sort out the circumstances surrounding the death, our thoughts are focused on: 1) How it happened, 2) Why it happened and, 3) Whether or not it could have been prevented.  Then the period of idealizing our loved one keeps our thoughts focused.  We recall the goodness, love, laughter and the touch of the deceased.  This is part of the process of stabilizing after the reality of death.  Preoccupation with our loved one will begin to fade as we learn how to be seperate from that person.  The process is gradual.  Eventually our thoughts will moderate.

Question #19Our seven -year- old nephew died suddenly as a result of an auto accident.  I was rather shocked when my sister gave permission for his organs to be transplanted.  Is this a common practice?
Answer:Yes.  The family in its sorrow can often feel better knowing that another life may be saved as a result of the donation of the organs of their child.  For them, this may help promote a feeling that their tragedy  has had some meaning, some potential for good.

Question #20My sister died last summer in a boating accident.  I looked up to her and counted on her a lot.  My Dad keeps telling me, "Don't cry.  It will upset your mother." but inside I'm crying all the time.  What should I do?
Answer:Your dad is trying to stabilize your lives after this loss.  Obviously he is worried about both you and your mother.  Also, I suspect he is fearful of his own emotions right now.   Many dads try not to cry as they see it as a sign of weakness.  They certainly don't want to appear weak to their family, especially at a time like this.  It is very important for you to have the chance to express your feelings with or without tears.  Please find another adult you trust, like an aunt or uncle, a teacher, clergyman or a friend's parent.  Tell that person how you feel.  Know that tears are a healing release.  I hope you can share these feelings with your parents one day.  But for now, try to let each one in your family grieve in their own way while you find a comfortable shoulder that is readily available.  

Question #21Is it possible to find the closeness, nearness and intimacy I need without being sexual?  Since my husband died this problem has been overwhelming.
Answer:Many widowed persons are aware of their need for closeness while feeling uninterested or guilty about sexual intimacy.  It is certainly natural to want to seek closeness in our relationships.  Intimacy can include but is certainly not limited to becoming sexual.  Intimacy can also mean things such as communication, understanding, companionship, fondness, loyalty and admiration.  Make your needs known at the beginning of a new relationship.  Express your desire for companionship and your feelings about closeness to the other person.  But always keep in mind that these feelings are subject to change.  As your grief recovery progresses, your needs may be different than they are now.  Set your limits but keep an open mind.

Question #22My husband died last year just after a short illness.  He was much older than I and we had been married only two years.  I sense that there is less empathy for me than for other widows who have a longer history with the man they loved.  Am I just over reacting?
Answer:I don't believe you are.  There is a certain unspoken code among the bereaved which states that," I'm grieving more than others because I was married longer," or, " We spent more time together," or "We had so much life left to live".  The time two people have had together is not the most important factor in grief.  The intensity of that time or the level of involvement is a strong determinant in the way one grieves.  I've seen devoted love relationships of relatively short duration result in complex grief processes.  I have also seen long marriages where so little love existed that it was a travesty to call it a relationship.  Do not allow anyone to discount or minimize your loss by trying to make theirs appear greater.  There are no comparisons to be made in the grief process.  It is far too individual and personal to measure.  

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