At some point in our lives, we might experience what it is like to mourn the loss of a loved one. And it might be harder for older people to deal with losing an adult child, a spouse or even a relative. If they don’t get the support and help they need to cope with their grief, it can lead to depression and other potential health consequences.
During the grieving period, they have a higher chance of compromising their immune system – they might have trouble sleeping, have little to no interest in food, and even experience “survivor’s guilt” due to their age. As such, it’s crucial for you to provide your elder family member with comfort and support as they cope with grief. Whether it’s a grandparent or your ageing parent, below are some tips to help you along.
Keep them company as much as you can
Feelings of isolation can make a person feel more depressed. As negative thoughts start to creep in, it can impact the grieving process and bring one further from accepting the loss. Spend some time with them, so they know that they are not alone – it could also be a way for you to bond over your loss together.
Make sure they are taking care of themselves
When you are emotionally distressed, your appetite might plummet due to the overwhelming feeling of loss, anxiety and stress. A decrease in appetite may weaken the immune system, which could especially be detrimental to the elderly. Do check in and gently encourage them to eat their meals and drink water regularly, so they can get the required nutrition and have the energy they need for the day.
Help them through overwhelming changes
While they are still struggling to accept their loss and move forward in their lives, dealing with major changes can be overwhelming. Give it some time, until 6 months or even till a year has passed for them before you may wish to suggest changes like moving to a new home. Even things like going through the deceased’s belongings can be emotionally difficult.
Naturally, significant dates like wedding anniversaries or birthdays can be a triggering experience and rekindle feelings of grief and loss – as celebrating these dates without the deceased is also a change that they need to go through. Try and anticipate these events and provide support in the best way you can.
Let them express their grief
Grief is part of the emotional process felt by those who have lost a loved one. The emotion itself intensifies for the elders as they have lost someone they have raised or grown up together with.
Allow them to reminisce their fond memories and at the same time share their feelings. At a time like this, sometimes the best thing you can do is just to lend a listening ear. A touch or a hug can sometimes do more to help a grieving senior than any words.
Above all, grieving takes time. Everyone needs to grieve at their own pace, including your elderly loved ones. While it may take some time before they can heal, your love and support can help them accept this loss and eventually move forward.
Arranging for a funeral service also helps bereaved family members honour the dearly departed and pay respects. In a way, they get to say their final goodbyes and start the healing process. At Casket Fairprice, we offer various funeral service packages including Christian, Taoist and Buddhist funerals. Let us help you plan and arrange a dignified funeral with personalised service and utmost care.