April is the beginning of spring and brings with it lots of happy things like sunshine and flowers and nicer weather. Sometimes those nice things make us forget that there are some people who aren’t so happy, though.
April is also Bereaved Spouses Awareness Month, a month devoted to caring for the men and women who have lost their spouses. This loss does not just have to be due to the husband or wife having passed away, though. Many men and women also feel a terrible sense of loss when their husband or wife enters into advanced stages of dementia or other medical conditions that render them unable to recognize the people who love them anymore.
In either case, the grief can be very intense, even if the loss happened some time ago. This month, we should all reach out to those who have lost a spouse and see if there is anything we can do to help them.
But what about your mother in particular? What should you say to her? What kind of help can you offer? Here are a few ideas.
- Talking: Everyone can benefit from talking to someone, especially a loved one who has firsthand knowledge of the person they lost. You can share stories about the things your father did with you when you were a child, or you can ask your mother how they met and fell in love. If that is too painful to talk about, talk about the pain. Acknowledging pain can make it easier to deal with, and knowing that you are hurting too can help your grieving mother to feel less alone.
- Consider grief counseling: If the grief over the loss of her husband seems to be getting too much for your mother to bear, consider finding a therapist or a therapy group that specializes in grief counseling. Sometimes it is easier to talk things out with a stranger or with a group of people who are going through the same thing. Therapists also have many ideas and suggestions that can help her to deal with the emotions she is feeling in a healthy way.
- Consider home care: If your aging mother relied on her husband for everything, she might be feeling overwhelmed running a house on her own. If she needs help with things like getting dressed, cooking, or using the restroom, she might benefit from help from a home care agency. The presence of someone else who comes to help her every day could also be a way to make her feel less alone.
- Find a peaceful pastime: While ignoring grief is never a good idea, constantly dwelling on it is just as bad. Try finding a hobby that your mother can do on her own, or that you can do together, such as gardening or doing puzzles. This will take her mind off of her grief, even just for a little while, and will make her feel better.
Dealing with grief can be hard, especially if that grief is caused by losing someone we loved for most of our lives. No matter what else you do, the most important thing you can do for your grieving mother is just to be there for her if she needs you.
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