When you’ve been taking care of a senior parent or family member and they are suddenly gone, it can leave a void in your life. You have spent so much time focusing on them and now you are left with only the grief. People who have never experienced this do not realize how difficult it can be to get on with your life.
Dealing with Grief
If you were the primary caregiver for your loved one, the grief can be different than for other people. You will experience a wide range of emotions as you go through the stages of grief. Along with the traditional feelings of shock, pain, anger, depression, and acceptance, you may experience an overwhelming sense of guilt that you couldn’t do more to help them.
Guilt is a strong part of the grieving process for family caregivers who have lost their loved one. No matter how involved in the person’s life you were, you will always feel you should have done more. Spent more time with them, called them more often, took them out to do things, or made sure they took better care of themselves. It is essential that you work through this stage and seek help if you cannot move past this stage.
You may also feel angry at others, especially siblings that weren’t around as much or lived farther away. They should have helped you more or visited their family more often. Be careful during this time that you don’t say something you will regret and damage family relationships. They are not always easily repaired.
How to Work Through Your Grief
The key to getting past the grief is to work through it. Here are some suggestions on how to deal with your feelings.
- Spend time with other family members. They are the only ones that will truly understand what you are going through.
- Talk about your loved one. Remember the good memories to help you deal with your loss instead of shutting down.
- Talk with friends. While they may have known your family member, it is easier to focus on other topics with them.
- Stay active. While it is tempting to hide away by yourself, you need to get out and be involved in your regular activities to help you adjust to the loss.
- Seek professional help if you cannot work your way through the grief.
- Spend time with the surviving spouse if there is one. While your grief is not the same, it is similar and focusing on helping them can help you.
How to Help Others Dealing with a Loss
Maybe you haven’t lost your senior family member yet, but someone you know has. It can be hard to know what to say or how to act during this time. Until you have experienced it, you can’t say “I understand how you feel,” but you can be sympathetic. Here are a few tips on how to be a supportive friend:
- Call them up every so often to check on them.
- Invite them out to dinner or cook a meal for them.
- Invite them to activities or events with you. If they say no, continue to invite them.
- Ask them how they are doing.
- Offer to help them pack away their family member’s belongings.
- Continue to check in with them after the funeral is over. People often express sympathy for the first few days and then taper off, but grief can take months to work through.
The most important thing to remember is what not to do. Don’t tell them to get over it or that they should get on with their own life. Even if they aren’t working their way through the steps of grief, you are not going to talk them out of their feelings.
Losing a senior parent is hard. Even though you know that they will die sometime in the future, it is never an easy process to deal with. Don’t set expectations for yourself on how you should handle things, but remember there are others who are going though the same thing and can help you.
Carefect Homecare Services provides a variety of services for seniors and their family members in their time of need. We provide personal care and housekeeping assistance. We can also provide respite care if you have a surviving parent while you take a break to deal with your grief. We provide supportive homecare assistance to help you deal with the difficult issues in your life by caring for your senior loved one.