Why Your Friend Who Lost A Spouse Needs Your Help

Losing a loved one is traumatic, but the death of a spouse can be especially painful. If you have a friend who lost their partner, they are grieving a very difficult loss – especially if they were together for many years. While this is a normal, healthy part of the process, sometimes it can stall or turn unhealthy. This is where you come in. Your friend needs your support, so here are some helpful suggestions on how you can assist them, courtesy of Serenity Wellness & Counseling.

When Grieving Goes Wrong

Mourning the loss of a beloved spouse is absolutely normal. You don’t need to worry if your friend is sad and lost at times. Everyone grieves differently. But grief can take on a life of its own and lead to bigger problems. GoodTherapy.org lists several unhealthy ways people mourn, including: 

  • Denial that there is a problem
  • Hoarding
  • Controlling others or giving up control
  • Significant anxiety and/or depression 
  • Risky behaviors

One particularly troublesome way people can hurt themselves is through substance abuse. That’s because self-medicating like this can quickly lead to addiction, in addition to increasing the risk of depression and suicide.

How You Can Help With Recovery

So now you know the warning signs of unhealthy grieving, but can you do anything positive to help? Cancercare.org discusses several ways you can help your friend. 

  • Listen well: Let your friend talk about their grief, and instead of trying to fix things, just listen. 
  • Accept their moods: Someone mourning the loss of their spouse can have mood swings. Do your best to ride these out and not take them personally.
  • Don’t give advice: Everyone processes grief differently, so let your friend do that on their own instead of telling them what to do next.
  • Offer practical help: Instead of a vague “I’m here for you” statement, offer specific help like picking up dinner, babysitting, cleaning house, and so on. 

One of the best things you can do is help them respond to grief in a healthy way. That means letting your friend cry if they need to, but it also means being comfortable with their sadness. Be there for your friend instead of waiting until they are “over it.” Support them by accepting grief as a normal part of life and let them know they aren’t alone. 

Getting Past The Loss

Being there for your friend and following these suggestions on ways to help can make a huge difference in your friend’s life. But remember that grieving is a process. It’s not something that runs for a few weeks and then clears up. People can mourn the loss of a spouse for months or even years. 

So how can you help them move on and get past their loss? By helping them say goodbye.
If there are any last requests by the spouse, help your friend see them through. Remind your friend that they will never forget their spouse and that their partner will always be in their heart. Talking to a therapist is often a great way to work through emotions, as these are trained professionals experienced with getting past the loss. 

Consider Assisted Living

This can be a difficult topic to broach but if you feel like your senior loved one might no longer be able to care for themselves, another option is to tour local care facilities and see if any of these would improve the situation. When you tour facilities, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember, your beloved senior deserves the best – and by asking questions and requesting clarifications as needed, you can help them get it.

Your Help Matters

Overall, your goal is to help your friend. That means focusing on them. Start by watching out for any signs of unhealthy coping, and consider assisted living if necessary. Then be there for your friend by encouraging healthy grieving and helping them say goodbye. It might be a long process for your friend, but by having your support and knowing that they can move past their grief will be the best way to move forward. 

Serenity Wellness & Counseling is here to offer the care and support our clients deserve. Questions? Call 281-944-7922.

Image via Pixabay

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