Dealing with Grief Over the Holidays-Part 2

When a spouse is lost, there is a huge risk of depression and senior isolation — that can lead to a plethora of problems — which is why it’s so important to get help. There are a few ways you can help your aging parent cope:

  1. Try the holiday in a new way.

Start a new celebration or tradition by going to a different venue or home

Try to create new memories, while continuing to honor the old in subtle ways, such as through decorating, meals or family traditions

  1. Honor the lost loved one.

Light a candle or say a prayer for your loved one

Share favorite stories about your loved one

Create an online tribute for the loved one

Visit your place of worship, if applicable for your family’s belief system

  1. Consult a professionals help, if necessary.

Whether you speak to a doctor, geriatrician, geriatric psychologist or geriatric psychiatrist, as Kernisan discusses, it’s important to talk to a professional if grief is not being handled well (or if you suspect there are underlying health issues that are a catalyst of the loss!)

If a senior loved one has lost a spouse, it may be a good time to think about or consider senior living. Senior living communities can provide daily activities, socialization, friendship and happiness during retirement years.

Adult Children Who Have Lost Parents

Just as seniors who have lost a spouse are at risk for heartache during the holidays, it’s only natural that adult children who have lost their parents may be suffering. Usually parents are the hub of the holidays, and if mom or dad passed suddenly, there can be even more emotions involved, such as shock or psychological trauma.

Grief counselors agree that trying to ignore the recent death of a parent only creates more problems. It is much healthier to acknowledge the loss and either go ahead with family rituals, honoring the loved one who passed, or start new traditions, while still respectfully acknowledging the old ones. A loving parent would want the celebrations to continue, which is also important to keep in mind.

As with the seniors who have lost spouses, there are ways to cope with this heart wrenching grief:

  1. Try the holiday in a new way.

Create new memories and traditions while it may be too painful to do regular family traditions

As with seniors who have lost their spouse, attending a celebration at a different venue or home could help, while continuing to honor old traditions through decorating, meals and family nuances

  1. Honor the lost loved one.

Create a memory book to document and honor their life, accomplishments and heritage

Memorialize your parent through donations in their name or volunteering for their favorite organizations

Practice spiritual beliefs that speak to you, whether it’s through prayer or visiting a place of worship

Create an online tribute

Share favorite stories about your loved one

  1. Join a support group.

Talking to people who have experienced similar loss can be helpful as a support group offers understanding, empathy and advice from people in a similar situation

Overcoming grief and loneliness are challenges that many people face when they lose a loved one, but whether they are able to move on afterward depends on their own inner resources as well as the support they receive from friends and family. For those who are having a particularly hard time coping, Dr. Kernisan suggests medical treatment and counseling to get their life back on track.


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