It is never easy to lose a loved one, and even harder to console your parent when their spouse has just passed away. Most people in this struggle have a difficult time comforting their surviving parent when they are dealing with their own loss. However, it may help to know that everyone experiences grief differently. You should never assume you know how your parent feels, because losing a spouse is different than losing a parent. Here are a few ways that you can help your parent through their grief counseling, while being as attentive and understanding as possible.
1. Attend to Physical Needs
Grief can be a physically exhausting process. In fact, going through the grieving or mourning process can even make someone ill. Often the person grieving will be so racked with emotions that they are unable to provide for their own physical needs, especially eating. One excellent way to help your parent and potentially work through some of your own grief is to make sure your parent is consuming regular, nourishing meals with nutritious snacks interspersed between. It is normal to not have much appetite while grieving, so it may be helpful to suggest four or five small meals as opposed to three big ones.
2. Listen and Encourage
One of the best things you can do to help your parent get through their grief is to simply listen as they talk about their lost loved one, and encourage them to talk more about it. After a person passes away, it is important to talk about the person and your feelings associated with their passing. The grieving process may take a year or longer, so it is important you make yourself available to talk. Additionally, signing your parent up for counseling gives them a safe environment to express themselves in ways they may not feel comfortable talking with their child.
3. Get Them The Care They Need
After a bereavement, often little attention is paid to the medical and emotional needs of the survivors. Even when free grief counseling sessions are offered, many families do not participate in them, for a host of reasons. However, grieving, when not expressed properly, can cause deeper underlying emotional problems later in life. Make sure that your parent is getting some professional help with their grief, even if they are not sure they want to.
4. Remember Important Dates and Anniversaries
Even years after your parent has passed away, it may be a good idea to call and check on your surviving parent on those important dates, holidays, and anniversaries that they shared with the deceased. Often the anniversary of these dates will be an emotionally trying time for your parent, so calling to check in on these days, and patiently listening to any feelings they have about their spouse, will go a long way to helping with their grief.