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Helping a family member of the 1st anniversary of their spouse's death
December 16, 2012 4:17 PM   Subscribe

My mother and father were married over 50 years. Dad passed early this year (Feb) and now is the 1st anniversary is upon us. I have been helping mom out quite a bit since then, but could use some pointers about what to do or look out for over the next couple of months. A little more inside.

They were the type of couple that did everything together and of the old-school married for life crowd. My father, while ill for the last year, he was not completely bed-ridden. However, he did need assistance. My mother filled that role completely. Suffice to say, when he passed, she not only lost her best friend, but much of the daily tasks she came used to performing each day. While she has managed as well as can be, I am noticing some periods of slipping into ruminating about my father and their time together.

So the question, (while I hope not too open ended) is this: what strategies, tips, actions etc can I do over the next few months to be there for her without smothering her. She certainly needs her time to continue to grieve and I do not want to take that away, but I just would like to have an eye towards healthy ways to help an 80 year old get on with life.

If it helps at all, I already moved in with her temporarily for the past few months and that has helped quite a bit. The plan is to stick around for another 6 months or so, but that is not set in stone. If anything, just having a person to make noise around the house seems comforting to her. I suppose I am just looking for tips from people who may have gone through this before and what worked for them.

throwaway email account - askmefi.anonymous@lycos.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
My mum was considerably younger when my dad died, but what finally helped her "move on with life" was (morbid as it sounds) when some of her friends also lost their husbands and she got a little "group of widows" that she could do stuff with.
So if you have any way to influence this, I'd suggest getting her to (re-)connect with friends or members of her community who are in a similar situation (and I'd guess at her age there are more of those).
posted by ClarissaWAM at 5:14 PM on December 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


My best friend's father passed away this February as well. She was a few hundred miles away at school and her older sister worked overseas, which seemed to make the adjustment a little harder on everyone. Her mom is two or three decades younger than your mom but this woman became very involved in a couple of groups. One was a yoga group she went to a few times a week, and I think some sort of art group. Regardless, I'd encourage her to find some sort of creative outlet for both the emotional release of whatever art she may choose and the social aspect of participating with a group.
posted by missriss89 at 6:46 PM on December 16, 2012


So the question, (while I hope not too open ended) is this: what strategies, tips, actions etc can I do over the next few months to be there for her without smothering her. She certainly needs her time to continue to grieve and I do not want to take that away, but I just would like to have an eye towards healthy ways to help an 80 year old get on with life.

The turning point for my mom (76 when my dad died) was twofold:

1. she committed to a grieving group (quickly realized she was very much not alone)
2. she started taking some mild meds

The grieving group (all women) came first. It was based on stuff she heard here that she started talking to her doctor about meds.
posted by philip-random at 8:27 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've seen this with my grandfather. A couple of years later he started to go swing dancing with an old friend. Sometimes I was his 'date'. It's a difficult loss and I'm so happy you are committed to helping her through it.

Think of parks and rec classes, groups, or contacting old friends? Maybe look these up for her and see if there is anything she would like. My grandfather also liked the social hour at church so maybe that.

All the best to you
posted by ibakecake at 8:46 PM on December 16, 2012


Would she be open to getting a pet? A cat or (small) dog might be good company for her and would definitely give her something to do.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:03 AM on December 17, 2012


If it helps at all, I already moved in with her temporarily for the past few months and that has helped quite a bit. The plan is to stick around for another 6 months or so, but that is not set in stone. If anything, just having a person to make noise around the house seems comforting to her. I suppose I am just looking for tips from people who may have gone through this before and what worked for them.

That was almost exactly what I was going to suggest, actually. After my grandfather, then my father, passed away, my mom and grandma shared a home until grandma passed a few years ago. They had a great relationship, and it was mutually beneficial for them to share a household. I think it may make some sense, if it works with your life situation, to stay on a continual "I'll stay for a few more months" kind of scenario.

Yes, that takes a lot of commitment, but it may be the best possible solution. When evaluating alternatives, though, bear in mind what is best for her and also what is best for you. It takes a special kind of person in the right situation to be able to take care of a parent.
posted by Doohickie at 7:19 AM on December 17, 2012


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