Archives for posts with tag: loss of children

Last week we talked about the various emotions and the stages one goes through while coping with the loss of a loved one. This week, we will talk about how one can help others go through this process.

While mourning and grieving may be an extremely personal experience, it is essential for the family members to provide support and be there for those who have just experienced the loss. The most important thing one can do is to listen.

Listen

The importance of listening cannot be overstated. Take a cue from this personal experience:

One of our older neighbour lost her husband a few years ago. The couple had been married for 12 years. This wasn’t nearly as long as my parents had been together, but I think she actually took the loss worse. And this left her even more vulnerable as relatives and friends assumed that, since she had been a successful, independent career for most of her life, she would easily bounce back. Her needs were very different than those of my mom. She later told me that the kindest things people did for her following that death was just listen. Listen to her memories, listen to the plans they had for the future and listen to her share what made their relationship so special.

Sometimes when visiting the ones who are grieving, we tend to avoid the topic of the one who has just passed away or death altogether. While this may seem like a more comfortable, it is actually a source of great discomfort to the grieving. They need to talk about the loss and the more they talk about it, the faster they will be able to overcome it.

Pay attention to their mental and physical health

This stage of their lives poses some special risks for the elderly. Senior citizens are already at a higher risk for depression and mental health issues. Many may even begin to self-medicate with pain medicine or alcohol, leading to addiction problems. If your loved one does not seem to be doing well mentally, encourage him or her to seek professional counselling. Some may feel comfortable talking to a religious authority. Others may not know who to turn to for assistance. Help find a referral service and assure them that counsellors are now viewed as any other health professional. Many elderly citizens grew up with outdated stereotypes and may still view seeking counselling as a sign of weakness. Assure them this is not the case and, if you’ve ever received counselling, perhaps share this with them. It will help remove any misgivings.

Most importantly, be there in the time after the death.

The weeks following the death of a loved one are busy. Relatives often visit and the house is full for days after the funeral. Everything tapers off after a few weeks or maybe a month or two. Then the house becomes very quiet. Children have returned home. Friends have returned to work and the day-to-day details of life. This is when the reality of their new situation – life alone – sets in. This is when they need you most of all. And the simplest gestures now mean so much. Drop in on your way home from work with a small bouquet picked up from the market. Make a point to get together to watch a favourite team or an anticipated movie. Invite your friend out to lunch or, even better; invite him or her over to share a meal with your family.

The loss of a loved one is never easy. The kindness shown when a senior loses a spouse will never be forgotten.

It is often said that the most certain thing and yet the most forgotten thing is death. In our heart, we are all aware that one day we and everyone around us will die. However, even this certainty is not enough to prepare for one for the massive emotional devastation that occurs due to the death of a loved one. The impact is even more severe, when this happens at an old age, and we are left wandering the streets of a new world, all alone.

In the next  post, we will talk about a few ways in which we can all help our elderly friends in coping with such a loss. This post is about the various stages of grief a person will undergo as they try to deal with this loss.

The loss of a child or a spouse is the especially devastating. Having invested an entire life in building a relationship, or in case of a child bringing them up, their sudden departure can be almost life threatening. The world suddenly starts holding less meaning and this effect alone can be paralysing.

Everyone experiences a wide range of emotions when a death occurs, the five stages of grief area well known psychological phenomena, and usually everyone goes through them. They are:

  • Denial: A refusal to accept that anything has changed
  • Anger: As the pain starts to become more real, a person directs their anger towards the situation. However, unable to do anything about it, they channelize it towards anyone and everyone
  • Bargaining: At this stage, a person realises their helplessness at the situation and starts bargaining with God for a resolution of the situation
  • Depression: Sadness, regret, guilt, humiliation and any other emotion that disconnects a person from the world manifests themselves in this stage. The person blames themselves for everything that is happening and starts moving away from the world. This is a stage in which a lot of people get stuck
  • Acceptance: Very few people get the gift of reaching this stage, however, those who do, are able to truly get on with their lives. This is not a state of happiness, but a complete realisation of the situation and acceptance in its entirety

Coping with loss is a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help anyone go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that one goes through. However, others can be there for support and provide comfort through this process. The best thing one can do, is to allow themselves to feel the grief as it comes. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.