By Helen Fitzgerald, CT Basics It's never easy to console someone whose spouse has died, but it can be especially challenging when the deceased is your parent.
How can you comfort your surviving parent while dealing with your own loss?
It may help you to remember that every person experiences grief differently, and that losing a spouse isn't the same thing as losing a parent.
And because you have to deal with your own loss, you may be frustrated as you try to help your father move on with his life.As part of his grieving, he may experience depression, forgetfulness, disorganization, preoccupation with the loss and a lack of interest or motivation in activities that he used to enjoy.Or maybe you're having trouble letting go, and you resent the fact that you father has given away your mother's clothes.In either case, tensions may be driving you apart, at a time when support is most needed.In addition to support and time to mourn, both you and your surviving parent need plenty of rest, nutritious meals and exercise. Staying healthy will help your body handle the stress these emotions can cause.
Key Tip 1 In time, grief will diminish, although it sometimes takes a year or longer.One of the best gifts you can give your mother is patience and understanding, long past the time when the outside world has stopped sending cards or asking her how she's doing. Your father may have suffered a long illness, requiring your mother's constant care and attention.Initially, she may remain caught up in taking care of the details after his death, or may deny that she's grieving (because the death was expected). But you should be prepared for her grief to surface at some point.Key Tip 3 Grief is stressful, and stress impairs the immune system.Grieving people may have more colds, suffer lingering illnesses or have flare-ups of existing conditions.You might suggest that your mother make an appointment with her physician so he can keep a check on her health. Specifics Grief can be a jumble of contradictory emotions: anger, longing, relief, guilt, regret, depression, panic and even hysteria.