Helping a Grieving Parent Move Forward After They Lose a Spouse

Helping a Grieving Parent AfterTalk Grief Support

When a parent loses their spouse, they’re suddenly faced with a world that looks very different. The person they have built a life with is gone, and they must now navigate the changes and challenges of everyday life without them.

As a child of this grieving parent, it can be difficult to know how to help. You want to assist them through this tough time but may not know where to start. Luckily, from financial management to emotional support, there are many ways you can help your parent cope with their loss and start to move forward with their life.

Financial Management

Losing a spouse can create economic instability due to loss of income, especially if that income was from a high-paying career or the household’s primary breadwinner. In addition to losing their companion’s income, your parent will now be exclusively responsible for previously shared expenses, such as household bills. To help your parent offset these monetary challenges and maintain financial stability, you may need to assist with things like building up emergency funds, reconfiguring their budget, and updating estate plans.

You must also assist your parents in avoiding accruing extra debt by providing budgeting advice and exploring financial aid programs. The National Council on Aging offers the BenefitsCheckUp, a tool that helps aging adults find economic assistance programs for which they may be eligible.

Navigating monetary decisions alone and after the loss of a companion can be daunting. You can help your parents by being their support system and discussing options such as notifying insurance companies, deciding whether to sell the home, and reaching out to former employers for potential life insurance benefits or retirement funds.

Dealing with financial security loss is an unfortunate reality for many survivors. Encouraging them to focus on their inner sense of security through honest and supportive discussions can provide comfort during this hardship.

Adjustments to Daily Living

The household tasks and responsibilities once shared by two people now fall solely on the surviving parent. This can feel overwhelming, especially if they’re not used to managing these alone. As their child, you can offer practical support to ease this burden.

One way to do this is by helping your aging parent make necessary adjustments to their home.

This may include removing or reversing aging-in-place features no longer needed, such as grab bars or stair lifts installed for the deceased companion. Additionally, making simple adjustments, such as swapping out bright bulbs originally installed for aging eyes with more energy-efficient options, can contribute to reducing utility costs and the comfort of the surviving parent.

You can also help them develop a new routine and assist with chores such as grocery shopping or yard work. It’s vital to remember that they may still be grieving and adjusting to their loss, so be patient if they need more time to complete tasks or make daily decisions.

Emotional Support

Losing a partner can bring on a range of intense emotions for the surviving parent. They may feel overwhelming sadness, anger, guilt, or even relief. It’s essential to comprehend that each person’s grief is unique, and there’s no right or wrong way to cope.Helping a Grieving Parent AfterTalk Grief Support

Your role as their child is not to fix their emotions or make them disappear. Instead, focus on providing a listening ear and offering comfort. Motivate them to express their feelings and validate what they’re going through. You can do this by saying things like, “I’m here for you,” and understanding that they may not want to talk about their loss all the time.

Some other ways you can help your parent navigate their emotions include:

  • Checking in regularly and being present when they need someone to talk to.
  • Offering to accompany them to therapy or grief counseling sessions.
  • Helping with daily tasks or errands so they have time to process their emotions.
  • Inspiring them to try new activities or hobbies that bring them joy and relaxation, such as yoga, painting, or gardening.
  • Suggesting a support group for those who have also lost a spouse.

Be mindful of how emotions may change during different times of the year. For instance, the holiday season can be a difficult time for those who have lost a loved one. This may be the first time your parent is spending the holidays without their loved one, so it’s crucial to acknowledge and address their grief during these moments. Similar difficulties can occur during birthdays, anniversaries, and other traditionally celebratory days.

You can also help them create new traditions, such as volunteering at a charity or visiting a new destination. If they aren’t ready to celebrate, respect their decision and offer support in any way they need.


Providing the proper support to your surviving parent after the loss of their partner is crucial. Whether offering financial advice, emotional support, or assistance with daily tasks, your role as their child can significantly impact their healing process. Remember to let them know you are there for them during this difficult time. Additionally, seek outside resources such as grief counseling or support groups to help you and your parent navigate this tragedy. With love and understanding, your surviving parent can find the strength to face their loss and move forward in life.


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