As age slowly creeps in, the probability that one half of a marriage or unity will die grows each day. The surviving spouse or partner is often left with the responsibility of planning a funeral while trying to manage their grief. Here, we will explore a few ways for guiding a grieving senior through the process and how to prepare to say goodbye.
Guiding A Grieving Senior Through The Funeral Process
The first hours and days
For many seniors, the shock of losing a partner leaves little more than feelings of confusion. It is their most vulnerable time and one where some individuals will try and swerve in to sell unneeded financial products. Some seniors may even be convinced to sell their family home. Kiplinger explains this is not the time for rash decisions.
You can help your senior loved one by providing a buffer between them and the outside world for a few days so they aren’t tempted to give in to “ambulance chasers.” Help them gather documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, powers of attorney, bank statements and military discharge papers.
The funeral planning process is more practical than emotional. There are decisions that must be made including whether or not the deceased will be buried or cremated and where the remains will reside. You can help by offering to put together a playlist and photomontage for the service. Information regarding insurance policies and burial benefits must also be gathered and distributed to appropriate parties, typically the funeral home.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs explains that the surviving spouse may be eligible for a burial allowance if the deceased was a member of the Armed Forces.
Grief is an inevitable aftereffect of losing a loved one. It can be especially detrimental to seniors who have been with their spouse or partner the majority of their adult life. It’s been long believed that grief comes in stages, and most people expect a predictable trajectory of emotion. But that is not the case at all, and you must understand that the one left behind may fluctuate between denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually acceptance. The AARP notes that loss is more difficult on men. While counseling may not be necessary in order to overcome the pain of this loss, the senior should be assured that they have access to a strong support system.
Getting through the funeral
Once the day arrives, the senior may seem fully prepared to say goodbye. But in reality, they probably are not. Stay by their side and offer assistance where it’s needed. If they’re religious, help them connect with their priest or pastor to find comfort. Listen when they speak and don’t be afraid to bring up your own memories of the deceased. You can help them prepare for the service and the emotional aftermath by locating a grief support community nearby.
When the smoke clears
Eventually, things will settle down and there will be some tough decisions that must be made about the surviving senior’s continued lifestyle. This may include whether or not he or she will move in with an adult child, relocate to assisted living, or continue to remain independent in their current home. If you have concerns, consider enlisting the services of an elder mediator, an unbiased third-party who can look at the senior’s situation objectively and make recommendations in their best interest.
Remember, the most important thing you can do for a senior who has recently lost their spouse or partner is to be there for them throughout the process. Sometimes, a helping hand is the only thing keeping them afloat in a sea of seemingly unending anguish.
This is a guest post by Lucille Rosetti. Lucille created TheBereaved.org as a means of sharing tools to help people through the grief process. Having lost some of the people closest to her, she understands what it’s like, and how it can be an emotional roller coaster that doesn’t always seem to make sense.