Losing someone we love is perhaps the hardest thing that any of us will ever go through in life. As a senior, you may be more likely to experience the loss of a loved one; many friends and family members are in their golden years as well, and death is simply a natural part of life as we age. Knowing that death, and loss, and grief are all part of the natural order of things doesn’t make the experience any easier. Severe grief can lead to clinical depression and even make it more likely for you to develop dementia. If you or a loved one is experiencing grief because of a loss, there are some things you can do to help get through this difficult time.
Join a Support Group
Joining a bereavement support group can help put you in contact with other people who are going through similar experiences and emotions. Having access to people who are going through the grief process as well can be comforting as well as helpful. You may gain some insight into things others are doing to help themselves get through their difficult time. You may also gain new friendships that you will come to find invaluable. You can also try finding a support group online or traveling to a group in your area. Many churches and senior centers offer support groups for grieving seniors. If you live in an assisted living community, they may also have a group that you can join. If you’re unsure of where to start looking, try search engines and ask around.
Whether you choose to pray or sit quietly somewhere peaceful, meditation is a good way to rid your mind of bad thoughts and gain some clarity on your experiences. When you meditate, choose a spot that pulls you away from noise and the distractions of daily life. You don’t have to go out of your way to find a place; closing your bedroom door and sitting on your bed may be good enough. If you do feel like you need to get out to lose your thoughts, consider asking a loved one to go along with you. They don’t have to be right next to you while you meditate, but they can hang around close by in case you need someone to lean on during or after your meditation. Our thoughts can often be a frightening place and having someone we love nearby as a support system is always a good idea.
Start a Journal
Writing is not easy for all of us. Starting a grief journal doesn’t require you to be a best-selling author. Your journal can be filled with words, or it can be more like a scrapbook of memories. Don’t plan it, just do it. Pick up a spare notebook you have around the house, or buy a special one. The details don’t matter so long as your journal feels right for you. On hard days, sit down and write, or glue photos into your journal. Use stamps, stickers, colorful paper, or a pen and your own thoughts. Write what you feel, or write something completely off the subject of grief. Often times, when we let our brains travel, we find our way more easily than when we try to force thoughts out. The simple act of writing can help to bring you peace and clarity in times when you need it most.
Honor Your Loved One
Whether it’s getting involved in an organization that was important to the person you lost or doing something brand new like planting a garden in honor of your loved one, doing something to honor them can help you to heal. When you are ready, consider things that your loved one was interested in or involved in. Did they have a charity that they gave to every year? Was there a club they were a member of to which you could donate? You even have the option of volunteering with your own favorite charity in your loved one’s honor. There is no limit to what you can do to honor them.