Losing a loved one is an incredibly difficult thing to go through. It can bring about feelings of anxiety, sadness, guilt, anger, and depression, and it can lead to isolation or substance abuse as a means of coping. For many seniors, Family Caregiver Alliance notes that living with loss can be devastating and life-altering, but knowing how to help the senior in your life plan for a funeral and the aftermath can be confusing and painful. It’s important to show your support during this time, but it can be hard to find the right ways to be helpful.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help a senior get through a loss. While this process requires compassion and sensitivity, it’s also important to remember that your loved one may not know what they need, so asking will be impossible. Step in and take care of the little things so that they can focus on coping in a healthy way.
Keep reading for some great tips from GetUrns.com on how to help.
Meeting with a funeral director to plan the service is a huge job, and it can take a big emotional toll on your loved one. It might be helpful to attend the meeting with them so you can ask questions they might not think to ask and to act as a buffer between them and the pain that can come with the harsh realities of death. It might be helpful to sit down and go over some questions with your loved one so you can determine what needs to be done. This will help the process go more smoothly.
Talk to Family
Making phone calls to inform family members about the loss can be overwhelming for your senior loved one, so offer to make some on your own. If most of the family members are on a social media network like Facebook, you might consider using that as a tool to help everyone get on the same page when it comes to arrangements and sharing the obituary or other memorial announcements.
Take Care of the Chores
Pride PHC Services points out that taking care of household chores and running errands for your loved one is a great way to help them focus on their needs while helping to boost their mood and energy. The time surrounding a death can be very confusing, and once small things start to pile up -- like laundry, dirty dishes, and clutter -- they can be detrimental to a senior’s mental health. Cleaning up, doing some grocery shopping, and running small errands can help immensely.
Take Care of the Pets
Pets can be very instrumental in helping us grieve. However, they can also be a lot of work. If your loved one has pets, it’s important to help take care of the animals during this time, not only to keep them safe and healthy but to take one more burden off your loved one’s shoulders. Because planning a funeral and coping with such a monumental loss often means being away from home for much of the day, consider boarding the pets or hiring a dog-walker to come over and take care of their needs.
Setting Up a Nonprofit
Another way to help your loved one grieve is by giving them something positive to focus their energies on – specifically, by creating a nonprofit in the name of the departed. An online formation service can walk you through the process, and this has the benefit of being a positive force for change in the community while honoring the departed’s memory, as well as providing the surviving spouse (and other mourners) with something into which they can funnel their positive energies and well-wishes.
Address Mental Health
Losing a spouse is a monumental life change, so much so that those who are left behind often struggle with coming to terms with the death. Your loved one may feel numb or angry; there may be changes in sleeping or eating patterns as well. Knowing the signs of depression – and how it differs from grief -- can go a long way in helping your loved one stay healthy.
Helping a loved one go through such a big loss is never easy. You may feel the emotional effects yourself, or you may be dealing with your own feelings of grief. Remember to take care of yourself and your needs during this time to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Compassion, honesty, and patience are the best ways to show you care.
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