The death of a loved one is one of the most devastating events any of us will experience. Unfortunately, anyone who lives long enough will inevitably experience the loss of a grandparent, parent, family member or friend. Coping with the loss of a senior loved one can be particularly complicated and confusing. Even if your senior loved one had a long and happy life, and is now free from any pain or suffering, it is normal to experience feelings of intense sadness and grief. Here are some ways to make coping with the death of a senior loved one a tiny bit easier.
Celebrate Their Life
It might be helpful for you to continue celebrating the life of your friend or loved one long after their funeral. Perhaps your grandmother taught you to sew, cook, or play the piano. Celebrate her life by keeping up with these skills, and remembering her as you practice these pursuits. If you always loved hiking or walking with your friend who has passed away, take a hike or walk in their honor. It doesn’t really matter what you do. Just remember the good times you had with your senior loved one, and celebrate the time you had together. The joy of these memories can be comforting in times of loss and grief.
Talk to Your Loved One
Regardless of your beliefs about the presence or absence of an afterlife, your loved one will live on after their death, even if it is simply in your memories and through the effect they had on your life and the lives of others. If you loved them, they will never truly leave your heart, even after death. So keep talking to them!
Sometimes called the “empty chair” technique, talking aloud to a deceased loved one as though they are present (like they are sitting in a chair next to you) has therapeutic benefits. The Gestalt school of psychology popularized this technique for a variety of purposes. It has been shown to be emotionally cathartic and can be very helpful with grief.
You don’t have to wait for a therapy session to talk to your loved one. Visiting their gravestone or memorial can be a good time to tell them about your day, your life, and how much you miss them. Or, you could talk to a photo of them or an object that reminds you of them. This way, death doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship with your senior loved one.
Sometimes people think they should be able to cope easily with the death of a senior loved one because they were very old, they were ill, or their death was not unexpected. But even if someone was very old or sick, their death still has a profound effect on you. Struggling to cope doesn’t make you weak. You cannot experience grief without also having experienced love. If you find it difficult to cope with the death of your senior loved one, there is nothing wrong with you. You have simply experienced the beautiful and profound love of another person. However, sometimes we cannot cope with these hard and complex emotions alone.
Therapy can be extremely helpful in this situation. Many people find individual talk therapy with a counselor to be very valuable. Group therapy with others who have experienced loss and are experiencing grief is also helpful for many people. You can even find a group or therapist online if circumstances prevent you from being able to attend therapy in person.
Consider Senior Living
If your senior spouse or partner has passed away, and you find yourself living alone, this might be a good time to consider moving to a senior living community. Senior living communities provide excellent support in times of grief. When you’re feeling up to it, check out Stellar Living to find a community near you. Our kind and experienced advisors are waiting to help you navigate this difficult transition.
It’s okay to have a hard time coping with the loss of a senior loved one. Stellar Living hopes these tools will help you navigate this difficult time and find your way to peace in the days ahead.