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My father recently passed away. How can I support my mom as she grieves this loss?

 

Question:  My father recently passed away (married to mom 57+ years) and mom isn't sleeping well. She is positive in other ways and I would like to know the best way to help and encourage her. I visit with her often and call most days.  Is there something more specific I can do within this transition period?

Dr. Amy:  I am sorry for your loss. This is a big adjustment, particularly for your mother. Each one of us deals with grief in our own, individual way. This means that there isn't one answer to your question. In general, you can support your mother by:

  • Being there and providing company,
  • Allowing her to remember your father (sometimes, people feel awkward talking about the person who has died, and this only makes the grieving person feel more alone) ,
  • Helping her to experience activities she enjoys (going for a walk or a drive in the country, gardening, going to the theatre, etc),
  • Providing practical assistance (meals, help with chores, running errands, yard work), and
  • Listening, when she is ready to talk. 

Sleep disturbance is common among people recently widowed. If you continue to be concerned about your mother not sleeping well, ask her if you can take her to her doctor to get some advice. Perhaps, too, she might like to join a grief support group, or talk with someone from her faith community. I encourage you to follow your mother's lead and allow her to grieve in her own way, at her own pace.

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