Grieving and Loss – Tips for Caring for Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One
Grieving is a universal emotion which most people have experienced in some point of their lives. Elderly people may find themselves dealing with grief and loss more over the years as they begin to lose those close to them.
Carers may be dealing with elderly people who have experienced losing their friends or family through death or a serious illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a stroke that has permanently altered their physical or mental state.
If you are caring for someone who has recently lost a love one, it can be hard to know exactly what to say and do. People often go through stages of grief and recognising this is important when deciding how you, as a carer, will deal with the situation.
Here are some suggestions on how to be supportive and not intrusive when helping someone through their grief.
- Show active, but Compassionate Listening
It’s a tricky balance between saying too little and not saying enough when it comes to listening to someone who is dealing with a loss. Show active, compassionate listening by:
- Letting the person know that it is okay to show you sadness, anger or frustration during the grieving process. Don’t tell them how they should feel or tell them they need to move on.
- Talking about your own experiences if you think it might help but make sure you choose words that don’t underrate or devalue their own, personal experience.
- Saying nothing at all – if you are nervous about saying the wrong thing, then it’s fine to listen and offer a hug and a cup of tea.
- Avoiding too many questions. This may cause the grieving person to emotionally turn away from you. Offer them an opening to talk but don’t intrude if they choose not to share how they feel.
2. Offer Practical Help but Don’t Force It
Some people may prefer to distract themselves by continuing on with their household chores. Others may appreciate assistance with laundry, dusting or a meal. Look for things that need doing and offer to do them but make sure you aren’t stepping on their toes by helping out.
3. Keep An Eye Out for Warning Signs
Whether an elderly person has dealt with the loved one before or not, it’s important to watch out for warning signs of depression. If it’s been more than two months since their loss and they are showing serious signs of not being able to function in their daily life then it might be time to seek help. Alcohol abuse, the inability to maintain personal hygiene and more can all be signs of the grief turning into signs of depression.
Being a carer for the elderly is very rewarding, and you may be their main confidant and support. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a carer, please check out National College Australia’s aged care programmes, available in Sydney and online.
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