How to Help a Grieving Parent While Dealing with Loss

how to help a grieving parent

Losing a parent may seem like an insurmountable challenge. While you have to find your own way to mourn, family close to you are dealing with grief all the same.

The death of a spouse can be devastating physically and emotionally. While you may be missing one parent, your surviving parent miss them just as much as you do.

You want to know how to help your grieving parent, but you aren’t sure where to start. While you endure so many difficult feelings and emotions, it’s difficult to know what you can say or do to that will help your mother or father.

Knowing the right thing to say is hard, but we can help point you in the right direction.

How to Help a Grieving Parent: Our 5 Tips

The loss of a parent can affect everyone in the family. Your siblings and your own children may have their own feelings, but the grief your living parent feels is unique.

While you’re busy helping with funeral arrangements and tending to your own grief, you need to make the time to be there for your living parent.

If you’re struggling with how to comfort your parent, we’re here to help. As your family goes through the grieving process remember to keep these things in mind.

1. Let Them Know It’s Okay to Open Up

You may be an adult with your own spouse and family, but to mom or dad, you’ll always be their child.

Some parents may feel like they need to put up a strong front when they’re dealing with the death of their spouse. They may feel like they can’t express their sadness because they’re worried about how you would react.

Let them know that even though you may personally feel sadness, you still want them to be open and honest about their feelings.

They need to know they always welcome to cry around you or talk to you. Let them know that it’s okay to express their grief to you, and that there’s no need to appear tough.

2. Make Sure They’re Taken Care Of

Your parents may have had a way of doing things for decades, and now their day-to-day activities have been disrupted.

Perhaps the recently departed may have been in charge of paying the bills and doing repairs around the house, or they may have been in charge of keeping things clean and cooking meals.

In the weeks immediately following their death, it may be easier for you to assume some of those duties. Helping out can put your surviving parent at ease, and it also gives you a good idea of what needs to be taken care of.

Some may find that it’s easier to take on the roles that were left open after the death of their parent, but some of the work may be too much for one person to handle.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for extra help once some time has passed. Sometimes hiring a maid or even a home care nurse can help both you and your parent retain some independence.

3. Get Ready for Candid Talk

Remember, you’re an adult now, and your surviving parent may be eager to talk to you on a different level now that their spouse has passed. Be prepared for some difficult conversations about relationships.

Your surviving mother may express some regrets about how their husband worked long hours. It’s possible that your surviving father may talk about how he wished your mother was more nurturing or loving towards you and your siblings.
If things are getting too intense for you, feel free to ask to change the subject. Just be prepared for some potentially difficult conversations about the lives you all shared.

4. Let Them Grieve Their Own Way

Some people may spend days or weeks crying, others may not shed more than a few tears. Your mom or dad may throw themselves into volunteering work or clock long hours at their job, and others may go from being active to staying in.

It’s important to let them express themselves freely and to not pressure them to feel or act a certain way. Grieving takes time, and they’ll need plenty of time and understanding in order to mourn the loss of their spouse.

What you think is right for your parent may not be what they actually need. It’s important to let them figure out this new chapter of their life on their own without additional unneeded pressure from you.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a loved one, especially the loss of a spouse. As long as your parent isn’t acting in a way that could harm themselves or others, let them express their emotions. Just the same as you need to find your own way to grieve, allow them to give their own way, too.

5. Be Prepared for Special Occasions

The first year can be especially tough when special occasions roll around. For your surviving parent, expect that their first time experiencing a major holiday or milestone without their spouse will be a difficult.

Ask your parent what they want to do when the holidays or birthdays roll around. For example, you may find that a parent who traditionally plays host may want a break this year, or perhaps he or she could be looking for some extra help to get things ready.

Be prepared for their needs for change as they navigate a changed environment. Be open to new traditions and accept that things will be a little different going forward.

Next Steps

There’s no definitive guide on how to help a grieving parent. Every family and family member, including parents, create their own ways to grieve. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to simply be there for your surviving parent and be open to whatever comes next.

Do you have questions about how to plan a beautiful memorial service for your deceased parent? Are you curious about what burial options are available to you?

We’re always here to help in your time of need. Be sure to contact us today so we can talk about the best way to honor your loved one.