For many, the death of a mother is one of the most emotional and difficult times you will go through. She was your support system, number one fan and always looking out for you. Besides processing your own feelings and emotions, you may also be helping your father process his. Here a four tips to help your dad cope with the loss of a spouse.
- Find a New Routine
Coffee on Monday morning with their neighbors or cribbage league as a couple on Tuesday night will now look different for your dad. His everyday routine will be different now that he doesn’t have your mom. According to research, a normal course of grieving starts with “numbness” immediately following the moment of death. It ends in “reorganization,” in which a person reorients their life to their future and new circumstances. However, the “in-between” stage of grieving can leave your dad at a loss of what to do. He might lose his appetite and have no desire to cook for himself, because your mom was the cook. You can help your dad establish a new routine by checking in often, having dinner with him a few nights a week and encouraging him, when he’s ready, to find activities to do that he enjoys. It’s important for him to find a new “normal” when the timing is right.
- Setup a Visit Schedule with Family and Friends
Many cultures have a “period of mourning” during which friends, family and neighbors look in on grieving loved ones. There’s no formal time period in American culture, but it doesn't take many weeks for the sympathy cards, flowers and meals to stop arriving. You can help your dad through this process by asking family members to visit him once a week or month – even if it’s a year later. A simple conversation over a cup of coffee once a week could make the world of difference to him.
- Seek Professional Help if Needed
Normal, healthy grieving over the loss of a spouse can take months, even a year. But there are patterns of grieving that are not healthy that can stretch much longer than that. If it has been two years and your dad is still trapped in feelings of loss, hopelessness and apathy toward life, he might be experiencing chronic grief. If your dad is experiencing these symptoms, he may benefit from talking with a therapist who focuses on chronic grief or recovery. Research a few options for him before you approach the subject. Offer to go with him to his first appointment for support.
- Encourage a Healthy and Active Lifestyle
There is a lot of stress that can be added to your dad’s life from your mom passing away. Stress such as dealing with the finances alone, cooking for one and the everyday household chores he used to have help with. This extra stress increases his chances of having a heart attack, stroke or increased blood pressure. Encourage your dad to eat a healthy diet, exercise and see his doctor regularly to keep him healthy.