Supporting a grieving parent after their spouse dies is natural for adult children, whether it’s helping with arrangements, notifying family and friends, or offering comfort. However, once the service is over and friends and relatives return home, the grief process for your parent just begins.
Giving Grieving Seniors Support
Adult children’s grief is usually marked by going through the deceased parent’s memories and thinking about future changes, while the surviving parent faces daily reminders of the loss. Your parent shared household responsibilities with a spouse and they had all their familiar routines, but now that’s gone. That is a huge disruption to the life of the surviving parent.
The need for support from your parent persists long after the funeral. To make matters more difficult, your parent may also be mourning death related secondary losses. He or she might have to sell the house or other married friends might drift away.
Seemingly harmless daily things can unravel the greatest emotions. The first time she is unable to repair the toilet or the first time he is unable to cook, these are times when people are emotionally upset.
How You Can Help Your Senior Loved One
1. Accept Changes
One minute someone who is grieving will feel at peace with the world and the next minute completely overwhelmed. The dad who was the funniest guy in the room could be more reserved one for now. The mother known for her sweetness could quickly become more irritable. Your parent may even feel embarrassed or shame about not being able to keep the same social calendar or workout routine. Your parent may not have the capacity or the will to do what he or she has done before.
2. Parents Might Act Differently
Someone grieving may feel at peace with the world one minute and completely overwhelmed the next. The dad who was the funniest guy in the room might be more reserved, at least for now. The mom known for her sweetness could become irritable more easily. Your parent may even feel embarrassment or shame for being unable to maintain the same social calendar or workout routine. Your parent may not have the capacity or desire to do what he or she did before.
3. Socialization Might Come Slowly
A grieving person takes a while to rejoin the community. If it’s too early, you can overwhelm them by being in a room full of people. While you don’t want to isolate your parent, realize that sometimes mom or dad just can’t handle being out in public.
4. Be There for Them
Isolation is the cause of sorrow and healing. Try to keep them engaged in life and companionship. Be present in relation to their needs. That could mean making a phone call or keeping in touch through sending videos. If you are attending the same church together with your parent, offer to pick them up and add lunch to the day.
5. Listen to them
Listen to what’s happening with your parent. Most people want to talk about the person who died, telling stories about the deceased parent is a good way to do that. Pay particular attention to the anniversary of death, asking your parent if he or she wishes to do something in remembrance on that day.
6. Keep Them Moving
Make sure that your parent eats well and gets enough sleep. If you live nearby, drop off a few nutritious food items each week or set up delivery of prepared meals. Offer a stroll with dad or inspire mom to join her party on water aerobics.
Reno Valley Assisted Living and Retirement Community
Reno Valley is an assisted living and retirement community that makes living independently, while at the same time feeling safe and secure, a reality. We strive to provide the best quality of life for all residents including those suffering from loneliness and depression.
We offer a comprehensive activity program that includes both physical and social activities to encourage emotional well-being. Our staff is trained to assist those with depression. If you or a loved one are considering assisted living, contact Reno Valley today to learn more about our services or tour our community.