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Compassionate Ways to Help an Older Person Through a Loss


Grieving Process

Posted On: Jun 13, 2017

Compassionate Ways to Help an Older Person Through a Loss

Death is a part of life for everyone—the young aren't exempt. However, once a person reaches a certain age, death becomes a more intimate acquaintance. All too often, we look at older people and assume that they've come to terms with the possibility of their deaths and the losses of those around them, but that's taking an awful lot for granted. Living to a particular age doesn't make death any easier to deal with or accept. In fact, death is often unnerving for older people, in part because they can suffer through multiple losses. Imagine seeing your friends and family members who are of an age start passing on, one by one. Don't assume that the older person in your life isn't feeling a particular way about death. Help her or him through it, even if you have to nudge.

Provide Space

This is tricky. You need to give the older person in your life time and space to process her or his feelings. Don't be pushy and don't press the person to talk because she or he can articulate how she or he feels. However, you also need to keep an eye out for behavior that suggests depression or prolonged grieving. If the person doesn't show any signs of talking or discussing her or his feelings, then it's also okay to make gentle mentions of it. For example, pointing out that something is different or that you noticed a particular behavior.

Spend Time Together

Even if you're not talking the entire time, spend time with the older person in your life. At this stage, and especially when someone keeps losing old friends and relatives, it's not uncommon for an elderly individual to reminisce in a bid to remember the better times that are now fading away. Listen to anything the person has to say. It's also fine to sit together in comfortable silence.

Talk about It

Sometimes, you have to confront death head on. It might hurt you deeply to hear someone you love discuss the fear of their own death or their feelings of the losses they've experienced recently. You have to put your feelings aside, even if that means you vent them later, privately. That's all right. This moment belongs to the older loved one you're helping.

Death can come to anyone at any time. The older a person gets, however, the closer it seems. Do you have anyone older in your life who's dealing with these feelings? Are you?