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Helping Seniors to Cope With the Loss of a Spouse

Helping Seniors to Cope With the Loss of a Spouse

Losing someone is never easy.  For seniors, coping with the death of a spouse they have shared their life with for many decades can be particularly challenging.  Where once there was a dependable partner to help with daily duties and offer love and companionship, now a grieving senior must deal with the unfortunate possibility of going about the rest of his or her life alone.

Extending a helping hand to an elderly relative, neighbor, stranger, or friend can help provide them a renewed sense of purpose and happiness.  Here are some tips on how you can effectively offer a new perspective to bereaved seniors, presented by Fading Memories.

Extend a Helping Hand

Deep emotional pain, depression, loss of sleep and concentration, guilt, and even anger toward the person who has died are some of the natural stages of grief.  Sorrow is a process that will eventually go away; however, in such difficult times, having others around can be a great help.  You can foster resiliency by offering services, gifts, and invitations to gatherings and other activities that will lighten the mood and increase a positive outlook for someone experiencing a loss. You could also consider setting up a nonprofit to honor the departed — and give the survivors something positive to focus on. ZenBusiness can help you get started. 

Choose Your Words Wisely

 Sometimes our first inclination to help someone experiencing grief is to immediately use such phrases as “At least” or “I’m sorry for your loss,” but often these words aren’t helpful at all and may make matters worse.  Choose your words wisely and sincerely and say something heartfelt and comforting.  Show you really care with your actions, such as offering to clean, go for a walk, and prepare meals. At times, just being there can say more than words can ever express.  If the deceased person is someone you do not know, then you may offer to listen to stories of the past.  If you were affected by the death also, then sharing fond memories or photos of the deceased is a great way to focus on the good times.

Let Them Know It Gets Better

Shoving emotions deep down will only extend the grieving process.  Depending on how the surviving senior is coping, this process may take a substantial amount of time, possibly even years. Grief comes and goes, often unexpectedly, interspersed with thoughts of happier times. Whatever level of pain someone may be experiencing, enlist others in offering group support, be there to listen, and act as a reminder that there are friends around to show love and compassion.  Acknowledge emotions and give the bereaved room to mourn without judgment.  

Reorganize and Recharge

 Clutter can have a negative impact on the brain, hindering it from processing information efficiently. A home in disarray can also raise stress levels and be deeply overwhelming.  Seniors experiencing a loss likely will eventually need to downsize their possessions for their state of mind and well-being.  Understandably, having to get rid of day-to-day items is a common cause for concern for seniors who have accumulated many memories throughout the years.  

Help them to see the big picture by assisting in ridding their life of worn and ragged items that don’t bring joy, products they haven’t used in years and may have even forgotten about, or items that bring old, negative energy into their home.  Demonstrate that keeping well-loved items paired with fresh, more vibrant items will not only inspire joy in their lives but give them a newfound sense of peace and serenity as well.


It’s natural for seniors to struggle with being alone after the loss of a spouse. While some find that transitioning into assisted living is the best option, others aren’t quite ready for that yet and prefer to stay close to family. If you are thinking of moving to be closer to your beloved senior or having them move in with you, the goal is to make the transition as stress-free as possible. One way to accomplish this is to search Angi for “furniture movers near me” and hire professionals to help eliminate some of the difficulty — and risk — of hauling all those boxes and furniture.

Death is something we all must eventually deal with, but you can help seniors to survive alone by being mindful of your own actions and patient as they go through a life-changing circumstance. By putting yourself into the shoes of another, you may help that person recover and find new life beyond the pain.

Fading Memories is a supportive podcast that focuses on conversations with people who can help with resources and ideas for whichever stage your loved one is in. There are stories from families dealing with Alzheimer’s, funny stories about visits with Mom (and other patients) and the feeling of being part of the larger community wherever you may live. Contact us today to join our thriving community!

Related podcast episodes:

Letting Go With Love (W/Barbara Karnes)

Smiling Through Your Tears (Anticipatory Grief)

Fading Memories was created to support family caregivers in a simple, on-demand form. When I was looking for advice on caring for my Mom, I needed this podcast. Since it didn’t exist, I created what I needed!
Jen – pod host

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