Being Supportive When a Senior Loved One Loses a Spouse




The experience of losing a loved one will evoke different reactions in everyone. While all people have their own personal coping mechanisms, research shows that social support and healthy habits help most people get through the grieving process with time, which can range from months to a year or longer. If your loved one is experiencing the complicated emotions of losing a spouse, offer your support by listening, doing activities together, providing help with tasks, and being aware of when professional help may be necessary.

Emotional Support

According to the Maine Senior Guide, one of the most important ways to help your senior loved one is to listen with compassion. Through conversation, the bereaved person can feel the loss is acknowledged, see that it’s not too bad to talk about, and preserve the memory of the deceased loved one. Let your loved one know that he or she is free to speak openly about the loss, and don’t be afraid to ask questions that encourage open expression. It is very important that you listen actively, so asking questions and using non-verbal cues like smiling or nodding, can encourage productive communication.

Accept and acknowledge all feelings, including anger, fear, and sadness. Everyone experiences grief in unique ways. Never tell bereaved people how they should or shouldn’t feel, and always offer comfort without minimizing the loss. For example, don’t provide unsolicited advice or say, “I know how you feel.” Sometimes, company is all that’s needed, so don’t worry if you sit in silence. Simply being present often provides comfort and support.

Quality Time

You can also offer support by spending quality time with your loved one. If your loved one is part of a support group, offer to accompany him or her to a meeting. Eating properly and exercising are especially important for the elderly and the bereaved, so offer to accompany them on walks or invite them to share a meal. If you know of an activity your loved one enjoys, offer to do it with him or her. You may discover that you both enjoy bowling, painting classes, or other pastimes.

Although people in mourning may need help, they may not ask for it because of being too depressed to reach out or feeling like a burden. Instead of waiting to be asked, offer direct and practical assistance. For example, say you’re going to the store and ask what your loved one needs. You can also say you’re making dinner and ask what time he or she would like to eat. Keep in mind that individuals who are grieving typically need help with errands, groceries, funeral arrangements, cooking, housework, pet care, and maintaining finances.


You can also help them honor their spouse. Creating a memorial space in their home, planting a tree, or cooking their spouse’s favorite meal can all be meaningful (and healing) gestures. You may also want to make a donation to their favorite charity or even start your own nonprofit in the spouse’s honor. When you form a nonprofit corporation, the IRS will recognize it as tax-exempt, but you’ll still need to keep accurate financial records. Zenbusiness shares the steps involved in starting a nonprofit corporation.

Extended Support

There’s no timetable for the grieving process, and feelings of depression, confusion, and being disconnected are normal. However, if your loved one’s symptoms don’t gradually decrease over time or if they get worse, grief may have progressed into a more serious problem. Warning signs that your loved one may need professional help include difficulty completing daily functions, neglecting personal hygiene, and a general inability to enjoy life. Other signs include withdrawing from others, talking about dying or suicide, and substance abuse.

Discussing your concerns for your loved one’s health can be difficult. Avoid directly stating what should be done; instead, state your feelings and offer a suggestion. For example, you could say, “I’m worried about your lack of sleep. Perhaps you should speak to your doctor about it.” Know the signs of substance abuse, and be aware that it can arise whether or not there is a history of addiction. If your loved one mentions suicide, seek professional help immediately.

For most people, the loss of a spouse is the most stressful event in life. Being there for your loved one during this emotionally trying time is important. Be a good listener and willing to take part in activities. Help ensure your loved one is taking care of his or her health, and be aware of when professional help is needed. Your support is one of the keys to your loved one finding the ability to move forward after losing a spouse.


Planning a burial at sea? Nationwide Burial At Sea and Teraloom can help you arrange your ash Sea Memorial Ceremony. Call 720-772-6492 info@teraloom.com

The experience of losing a loved one will evoke different reactions in everyone. While all people have their own personal coping mechanisms, research shows that social support and healthy habits help most people get through the grieving process with time, which can range from months to a year or longer. If your loved one is experiencing the complicated emotions of losing a spouse, offer your support by listening, doing activities together, providing help with tasks, and being aware of when professional help may be necessary.



Photo Credit: danilarrifotografia0,Pixabay

If you'd like more information about a Sea Memorial Ceremony, call or write -info@teraloom.com 720-772-6492




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