If your elderly parent is facing the holiday season alone for the first time, understand that this is often the worst time of year for those grieving a loss. Surviving all of the first milestones –birthday, anniversary, holidays – after a spouse’s death is difficult. It is one of the reasons most hospice bereavement programs keep in close touch with families for the first 13 months after a death.
What can you do to help the senior you love prepare for the holidays alone?
Here are 5 ways you can help:
1. Prepare ahead of time: It may be tough to do, but talking with your parent ahead of time about how the holidays may make them more emotional can be one of the best ways to help them prepare. Let your loved one know that they can call you day or night if they need to do so.
2. Let them decide what they do: As an adult child trying to help a parent through the grieving process, it may be tough to fight the inclination to overload their schedule. You mind think keeping them so busy they don’t have time to feel sad is the answer. Sometimes it is, but just as often, it isn’t the solution. Instead, consider making them aware of the events and activities you would like to have them join you for during the holidays. Then, let them decide what they feel up to doing. It might be they want to spend some alone time this year.
3. Permission to enjoy the season: By the same token, your loved one may feel guilty at just the thought of enjoying the season’s festivities without their spouse. It is good to have a conversation that encourages them to relax and enjoy the season if they can.
4. Find a way to honor the family member you lost: While your parent might not feel up to participating in their normal, traditional activities this holiday season, they may want to find a way to honor their loved one’s memory. It could be a special prayer before the holiday dinner, a candle lit in their memory or a holiday toast of remembrance. The idea is to help them feel connected.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself: follows its own course. It is different for every person. Some days may be better than others. So give yourself and your parent a break. For example, if you can’t get to all of the holiday shopping or baking that you usually do, let that be OK for this year. Or if your loved one agrees to an event or activity and then has a difficult day, let them off the hook if they want to cancel.
Above all, know that the first year after a loved one’s passing is the most difficult time for families to get through. This holiday season might be one that you just try to peacefully endure. Then next year you can resume the festivities and traditions your family has always enjoyed.
By Shelley Laurel http://www.theseniorcareblog.com/post/5-ways-help-aging-parent-cope-loss-holiday-season