Advice for Helping a Grieving Parent
Loss is a normal part of life experienced by all people. The loss of a partner or child can be particularly challenging and unique. When a parent is grieving, there are many different ways you can support them, regardless of your role in their life. Read on for our tips on helping a grieving parent cope with their loss.
Listen and Be Patient
Grief is a normal reaction to loss. All people experience grief in different ways and move through the stages of grief at difference paces. It is important to be there for grieving parents with patience and compassion in whatever way you can.
Try to cater your actions to your loved one’s needs. Some people prefer more privacy, while others may need lots of distractions. Be sure to allow the parent their space while still making it known you are available. People who have lost a loved one do not want to pretend that the person did not exist. Remember to listen rather than give advice, and try to gently encourage positive, happy memories whenever appropriate.
Consider Bereavement Services and Resources
Whether you are helping a parent grieve who has lost a child or you are helping your own parent grieve the loss of their spouse or child, this type of loss can be hard to bear without external assistance. For some, the assistance of a professional may be absolutely essential. There are resources available, such as grief counselors and support groups, that may be very therapeutic for a parent who has experienced loss.
Remember the other family members who have experienced this loss as well and try to build a network of care. If a parent has lost a child, their other children may need extra support. Communicate openly with the entire family to try and identify which resources and avenues may be most helpful. Signs that a person experiencing grief may be in need of external assistance include:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Difficulty with decision-making
- Self-destructive or suicidal thoughts
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) Behavioral Health Administration has compiled a list of resources to assist residents in finding support for grief, including the Bereaved Parents of the USA, of which there are two chapters in Maryland, and The Compassionate Friends, of which there are three chapters in Maryland and D.C.
Things You Can Do
There are tasks you may be able to help with in order to make the process of grieving less stressful for a parent. Evaluate the person’s work and familial obligations and help where you can. Tasks you can assist with include:
- Informing family members/friends – It can be very difficult for a grieving parent to reach out and communicate with others. Inform them that you are willing to contact family members and friends on their behalf if this is something they would prefer.
- Answering phone calls/emails/texts – Handling communications in general can be helpful for a person in grief. Offer to take care of answering emails and phone communications.
- Keeping house/cooking/grocery shopping – Cleaning, cooking, and other household tasks can easily fall by the wayside. If the parent who has lost a spouse or child has other children, they may need help caring for them. There are numerous tasks that fall into this category. Try to determine what they truly need and take some of their regular responsibilities off of their shoulders.
- Pet care – Pets need to be fed, taken for walks, and cared for while a person is grieving. If necessary, you may even arrange for a walker or for a family member to care for the pet for a temporary period of time.
- Choosing a family-run monument company – All parents want to memorialize their loved one with a beautiful, lasting tribute. Working with a family-run monument company that leads with compassion and empathy is the best way to ensure your monument is executed perfectly and installed with respect and attention to detail.
- Designing a memorial that pays tribute to the decedent – Individuals who care about your loved one will listen to your ideas and help you design and create the perfect memorial for your loved one, whether it be a bevel marker, an upright headstone, a memorial bench, or any other type of marker. There are many design options you can help the grieving person choose from, such as including an image of their spouse or child on the stone and selecting a color.
- Choosing a cemetery and funeral home – A funeral home will need to be selected within a few days after a person passes. This can be the most difficult time for a parent to function, so stepping in to research and contact a funeral home on their behalf can be extremely helpful. A cemetery will also need to be selected. Consult with the family of the deceased person in case they have selected a family plot or have a preference. If not, your monument company can help you choose a cemetery.
- Planning the funeral and arranging hospitality (catering, flowers, programs) – There is a lot that goes into planning a service. The grieving parent may be overwhelmed with the prospect of planning. Helping with this can take a lot of stress off of them when they most need it. Speak with them about how they would like to see their spouse or child honored. You can work with the family to arrange a service accordingly.
- Writing the eulogy and obituary – An important part of grief is creating a eulogy and obituary that pay proper tribute to the deceased person. If you feel able, you can offer to help with this or even write it yourself.
Loss is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting for all people affected by it. Helping your own parent through loss can also be draining. Be sure to reach out for help when you need it, too. Supporting other parents through the loss of a child through acts of service, empathy, and compassion is important part to helping them grieve. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from external resources and bereavement services. Assess your specific situation and be there to the best of your ability to help with what your grieving loves one truly needs.
If you are in need of assistance in planning a memorial for a loved one, contact Tegeler Monument Company today. We can help you design, plan, and install your memorial in Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and the surrounding regions. We are a family-run business, and we prioritize a compassion-first approach to assisting other families as they experience grief. Contact us today, or call (410) 944-0300 to speak with a representative.