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How you can Help your Grieving Parent when they Lose a Spouse

Losing a parent is extremely difficult. This loss can also mean that your surviving parent has lost their spouse. Dealing with this grief can feel unbearable, but Story Cottage would like to help you find ways to care for your surviving parent, and to care for yourself as well. 

Learning about Grief

Keep in mind that grief is very personal. The way that you feel about grief is different from how your parent will feel. Losing a parent is also very different from losing a spouse. Try to remember that you are both in pain, but to not compare your experiences; it won’t be helpful for either of you.

The Five Stages of Grief

Whether or not you’ve heard of the five stages of grief, it can be helpful to review them when you experience a loss. You can use these to monitor your parent’s feelings and to know how specifically you can help them during each stage. 

  • Denial: They may feel in shock or numb about the news of their spouse’s loss. Allow them to feel their emotions and don’t rush them.
  • Anger: Give them patience if they get angry with you or if they are blaming others or themselves for the loss.
  • Bargaining: They may be running through all the “what if’s” in their mind, but help them remember they did everything they could and it is not their fault.
  • Depression: Loss is difficult to get through, but if you fear your parent may be having suicidal thoughts or their depression lasts longer than three months, don’t be afraid to get help from a doctor or counselor.
  • Acceptance: Everyone is on a different timeline through grief and finding acceptance. Remember that grief isn’t linear and to support them through all of the stages. 

Practice Self Care

A frequent analogy for self care is to place your own oxygen mask before helping others. If you don’t take care of yourself both physically and emotionally, then you cannot take care of others well. It can be easy to focus on supporting your surviving parent, but remember that you suffered a loss as well and to get help when needed. 

Just Listen

Sometimes your parent may just need a listening ear. Assisting with household tasks is important, but it can be easy to get into “caregiver” mode, or to avoid conversations about the loss. Instead of offering advice or focusing on other duties, be sure to make time to sit and listen to your parent’s stories. Let them know that it is okay to sometimes just be sad together.

Remember Anniversaries

Important dates will be tough to get through, but you and your surviving parent will likely want to remember them. Add birthdays, wedding anniversaries and your parent’s death date to the calendar. Show your parent that you care by sharing memories or offering to visit the cemetary on those dates.

If your parent is also affected by memory loss, Story Cottage can support you both with our first-of-its-kind memory care solution in Indianapolis. Our low patient-to-caregiver ratio and top safety features will provide your loved one with excellent care in our beautiful home-like facility. Schedule a complimentary consultation online or at 317-449-5696.