When you lose a loved one you often lose a confidant. For your own good you need to reach out and find a new person to talk with. No, it won't ever be the same, but you will find many rewards in developing or deepening new relationships. We are happy to bring you an article written by Jackie Waters who has a passion for helping people. Please read her article below and find out more about her at www.hyper-tidy.com. Thanks Jackie for a this helpful article!
Helping Seniors Deal with the Loss of a Spouse
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Grief does strange things to our minds and bodies. It can make us lash out at family members and feel intense anxiety and fear. It can make sleep impossible and can even make us more prone to illness. Friends and family members can help the widow or widower by ensuring that he or she is practicing self-care and that a strong support system is present.
Grieving the loss of a loved one can stir up a wide range of emotions, including anger, anxiety, blame, guilt, loneliness, sadness, denial, fear, and numbness. “There is a big overlap with symptoms of depression,” says familydoctor.org. These psychological effects of bereavement can last up to two years.
After a spouse dies, the widow or widower is left with a to-do list that can bring up further emotional challenges. For example, he or she must carry out final arrangements, go over the will and other legal documents, handle life insurance, and more. Sometimes, the death of a loved one can create conflicts within the family. “As the family gathers in this difficult circumstance, tempers can be short and old patterns of interaction can become more extreme,” says Hospice & Palliative Care Center.
There are groups and programs available that can help you deal with your loss. There are even free online options that can provide some comfort.
Most people are aware of the physical effects of grief, such as fatigue, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, and difficulty concentrating. But losing a loved one can also have a harmful impact on the immune systems of the elderly. When someone loses a spouse, he or she has a 66 percent increased chance of dying within the first three months – a phenomenon that scientist have dubbed “the widowhood effect.”
A study found that a type of white blood cell called the neutrophil, which is essential for fighting off infections and illnesses, is weakened when someone is grieving the loss of a loved one. Scientists believe the neutrophils were damaged because grief disrupts the balance of two hormones (cortisol and DHEAS) that are involved in coping with stress. The effect was only found in people older than 65.
How to Cope
When people lose their spouse, it’s important that they’re allowed to grieve and mourn in their own way. Support from family and friends is crucial in their ability to move forward in life. The widow or widower may also benefit from support groups or speaking with a mental health professional.
Grief can be exhausting, so self-care is important. Poor diet and inadequate sleep can make other symptoms worse. A person in grief should take time to be pampered, whether it’s going for a walk, getting a pedicure, or spending the afternoon enjoying a book in a coffee shop.
Physical activity lessens tension, increases energy levels, and improves mental health. It can also provide a sense of purpose and control of one’s mind, body, and life. Exercise acts as a distraction and provides many health benefits. Swimming, gardening, walking, yoga, and club sports are great ways for the elderly to exercise. Meditation and breathing techniques also provide benefits.
As previously stated, family conflicts can arise, but you want to avoid family conflict to limit the stress on everyone who is grieving, especially the widow or widower. Remember that most disagreements and tension can be blamed on heightened emotions and stress. Someone who tries to take full reigns of funeral planning may be trying to gain a feeling of control in life as he or she feels such a loss of control in the death of the loved one.
Lack of communication is another major issue. “If a plan isn’t made for who, when, and how certain things will be handled, it is not uncommon for one person to go rogue,” warns What’s Your Grief?. Making a plan and maintaining frequent communication is key. Try to remain positive and give people the benefit of the doubt. Grief is probably to blame for their erratic and poor behavior.
From causing feelings of fear and anger to making the person physically ill, grief has a heavy impact on a person’s mind and body. Ensuring the grieving person receives support, good nutrition, proper rest, exercise, and pampering is important. There’s not a quick fix for grief, but a friend or family member’s love and support goes a long way in helping the widow or widower move forward.