Heath and Aging

End of Life: Helping with Comfort and Care

Getting Help for Your Grief

Losing someone close to you may leave you feeling sad, lost, alone, or even angry. You may miss the person who has died—you want him or her back. You might have also been so busy with caregiving that it now seems you have nothing to do. This can add to your feelings of loss. This is all part of mourning, a normal reaction to the loss of someone you’ve cared for.

There are many ways to grieve and to learn to accept loss. Try not to ignore your grief. Support may be available until you can manage your grief on your own. It is especially important to get help with your loss if you feel overwhelmed or very depressed by it.

Family and compassionate friends can be a great support. They are grieving, too, and some people find that sharing memories is one way to help each other. Feel free to share stories about the one who is gone. Sometimes people hesitate to bring up the loss or mention the dead person’s name because they worry this can be hurtful. But, people may find it helpful to talk directly about their loss. You are all coping with the death of someone you cared for.

Charlie and Doug’s Story

Shortly after Charlie’s husband Doug died, his friends started coming over with dinners and memories to share. They would sit around Charlie’s dining table for hours remembering Doug’s humor and kindness. Soon, Doug’s friends were joining them with their own recollections. It was so like old times that it almost seemed Doug had just stepped out of the room. Those evenings together helped Charlie, as well as the others, start to heal after their loss.

Grief Counseling

Sometimes people find grief counseling makes it easier to work through their sorrow. Grief counselors can talk with you one-on-one. Regular talk therapy can help people learn to accept a death and, in time, start a new life.

There are also support groups where grieving people help each other. These groups can be specialized—parents who have lost children or people who have lost spouses, for example—or they can be for anyone learning to manage grief. Check with religious groups, a local hospital, hospice groups, or your doctor to find support groups in your area.

An essential part of hospice is providing grief counseling to the family of someone who was under their care. You can ask hospice workers for bereavement support at this time, even if hospice was not used before the death. Nursing homes and hospitals often have social workers who have helpful resources. The funeral home might also be able to suggest where you can find counseling.

Remember to take good care of yourself. You might know that grief affects how you feel emotionally, but you may not realize that it can also have physical effects. The stress of the death and your grief could even make you sick. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and get back to doing things you used to enjoy, like going to the movies, walking, or reading. Accept offers of help or companionship from friends and family. It’s good for you and for them.

To Learn More about Dealing with Grief

Some resources to help you learn more about dealing with grief:

AARP
www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/grief-and-loss
1-888-687-2277 (toll-free)
1-877-342-2277 (español/línea gratis)
1-877-434-7598 (TTY/toll-free)
member@aarp.org (email)

Hospice Foundation of America
http://hospicefoundation.org/End-of-Life-Support-and-Resources/Grief-Support.aspx
1-800-854-3402 (toll-free)
info@hospicefoundation.org (email)

National Library of Medicine
www.medlineplus.gov/bereavement.html

Publication Date: July 2016
Page Last Updated: August 17, 2016