How to support a senior following the loss of their spouse

Bereavement of a spouse can have a devastating impact on the physical and mental health of anyone at any age, but seniors are especially vulnerable to the loss of their loved one.

It can take weeks, if not months for a senior to adjust to their life without their spouse.

When a loved one is grieving the loss of their spouse, here are some ways to help them through it:

  • Listen. Listen to what they have to say about how they are feeling, be empathic and don’t try to rush the grieving process. They have likely been with their long spouse for many years; it is only natural that the grieving process may take a significant amount of time for them to come to terms with this loss.
  • Don’t make big changes straight away. Seniors can struggle with change in general and this one traumatic life event will likely be all they can emotionally handle. Although considering changes such as moving house or seeking extra care may be on the horizon, this is something to discuss once they have had time to grieve for their loved one and are ready to consider other big changes in their life.
  • Make sure they are remembering to take their medication and filling their prescriptions so they don’t run out, as forgetfulness is a common side effect of grief. Grief can be overwhelming and everything from eating to sleeping may be affected.
  • Check in regularly and help out with things at home where you can. For example cook for them to make sure they are stocked up on quick and easy to make meals, as they may not feel like cooking.
  • Surround them with their loved ones; Grandchildren and pets are particularly effective at putting a smile on even the saddest of faces. Pop over for a cup of tea and a cuddle with the grandkids and favourite hound in tow. It may be the few minutes of distraction they need to brighten up their day.

If at any point you are concerned about the physical or mental health of someone who has lost his or her spouse, encourage them to seek professional medical advice and support. Most importantly, remind them that they are not alone and are surrounded by people who want to support them!