All of us have to deal with loss and grief at some point in our life. At any age, it does not get easier to deal with it. But, as the law of nature goes, incidents of grief may be more as we age. With age, we face the prospect of loss of our spouse, friends, family members, and even, at times, those younger than us. One of the worst forms of grief that senior citizens may have to face is that of losing their children or grandchildren.
Sadness is unavoidable, and as they say, time heals. But at times, if not dealt with properly, grief can push people to stay within themselves and may even tailspin into depression. The usual cycle that we see around us is that the friends and family rally around a grieving person, to help them outlive the same. But, if that does not happen, or there is also a possibility that our good intentions, may push them the other way because all they wanted was to grieve in peace. Hence, it is a highly sensitive situation that should be dealt with a considerable amount of care, maturity, and responsibility.
The common responses
It is often seen that, in our bid to try and empathize with the person and make them feel better, we start saying things like – “It is God’s will”, “I know how you feel, we can’t help it”, “You will feel better with time”, etc. These are insensitive responses, as every person’s grief is unique, so we cannot possibly feel or understand what they are going through. We can only imagine so and relate to our own experience. But, their personal experience will still be different.
So, it is better to say, “I can only imagine how hard it must be for you.”, “I am extremely sorry about your loss,” or “Let me know if there is anything I can do right now for you.” Be genuine, avoid the regular clichés. The idea is to ensure that the people feel that you are genuine, and then perhaps, they may start talking about their memories of the person, and you can listen. All they may want to do is talk and someone to listen. If you have good memories about the person, you may share that as well, so they feel better.
Help them with acceptance
It is essential to ensure that the grieving people accept the loss and start moving on in life. This is best done when they can accept the death and talk about that person as past and a memory. While this may take a little time, it should not go too long as well. Hence, encourage people to talk about the loss, and get it over with to the extent possible, so that they can move on in peace, and remember the people fondly.
Allow them to grieve in their style
People react differently to grief; hence, it is not right to sit in judgment on the people who are grieving. Allow them the space to grieve as they see fit to. While some may want to avoid people and events for a while, some others may prefer to stay out of the house, to prevent memories and constant reminders of the person who passed away. The choice of how to grieve is best left to that individual, and we should not suggest them to “do” or “not do” something.
Keep a watch
If they need privacy, allow them that, but also make sure that you keep a watch to see that they do not slip into depression. Keep in touch and offer help, if and where it is needed. Use excuses like a shopping trip to check with them if they need anything or would like to come along. Running errands for them or including them in such trips may help them. If you suspect any out of turn behavior in them, it may be best to take the help of trained counselors, who can help them come to terms with the loss and also nudge them to move on in life.