Death is a challenging topic to digest. We all know that eventually we will pass on. Many struggle with the concept of death, as it may bring a flood of fearful or negative emotions. However, by trying to understand and process death, it becomes easier to cope with the process when necessary.
It’s important for people to understand what death really means, especially as they age. Yes, it’s the final step in life, and while it affects the person who is dying, it has as much of an effect, or even more, on those who live on.
Grief is the most critical step in coping with death. Grief, or the emotional suffering one feels when they experience loss, is a very natural way to process the passing of a loved one. It’s important to note that everyone experiences grief differently. While one person may heal quickly another may internalize their pain and hold onto it for a longer period of time. Some feel a tremendous amount of fear, while others feel anger and / or disbelief.
As a caregiver, it’s important to understand how the senior you care for processes death so you can build an appropriate support system for the grieving senior. Encourage seniors to express their feelings, perhaps through journaling, sharing memories, or creating art. This expression can help seniors digest their loss and how it affects them.
Never tell a senior how they should feel when they lose a loved one. Death is complicated, and there is no one correct way to react to it. Keep an eye out for prolonged grief. While grief is natural, if it goes on for too long, you may want to take your senior to see a specialist. The grief may have triggered a depressive response, and this will want to be addressed sooner rather than later.
As a caregiver, being a supportive companion will prove extremely valuable to those going through the painful experience of losing a loved one. Help the senior maintain their hope and positivity for all they still have in their life. There is no perfect way to react to death. Everyone reacts differently, and everyone heals differently.