February is the season of love. Look no further than crowded store aisles filled top to bottom with heart-shaped chocolates, gushy cards and flower bouquets overflowing with the signature reds and pinks of Valentine’s Day. It’s inescapable. For many, though, these romantic symbols aren’t cause for celebration, but rather painful reminders of love lost.
Right now, millions of older Americans are mourning the death of a significant other and may be experiencing first-hand the feelings of hopelessness, shock, guilt or anger common during the grieving process. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these emotional pains may give way to physical symptoms, including:
- Trouble sleeping
- Little interest in food
- Problems with concentration
- A hard time making decisions
And in 2021, as we all continue to endure the social distancing challenges presented by COVID-19, this period can be particularly stressful. During a time when we need to be close to our loved ones, in some ways we’re forced to be further apart than ever.
Life is severely disrupted after the loss of a spouse, partner or close friend. But there are several activities and outlets available to widowers to help them carry on:
- Join a support group. Counseling can be helpful, but community or church bereavement groups can also bring together people experiencing loss concurrently.
- Immerse themselves in hobbies. Whether it’s painting, visiting museums or listening to their favorite music, experiment with social situations to find what makes them happy.
- Journal. Write down stories and memories. This not only keeps loved ones alive in the mind, but it can help ensure their legacy lives on for future generations.
- Be physically active. Taking walks with friends or family, joining a swim class or exercise group, or playing games like bowling or bingo helps strengthen old relationships and build new ones.
- Find new kinds of companionship. Offering to watch grandchildren or getting a new pet offers the chance to create new routines and continue having loving connections without threatening the bond once shared with a spouse.
Individually, these may seem like minor life adjustments. Incorporating them while enduring the emotional pain associated with loss, though, may prove difficult. During this time, many lose interest in cooking and eating, fall behind on household chores once shared with their partner, or forget doctor appointments and medication regimens.
Spirit Home Care can help. Our highly skilled team of caregivers are trained to promote healthy physical, emotional and mental health, and can provide companionship and assistance completing routine everyday tasks while our patients navigate their new normal in the comfort of their own home. Please contact us. We welcome the opportunity to show you firsthand how Spirit can make a difference in your life or the life of a loved one.
Cherish the love in your life this Valentine’s Day, but let’s not forget those whose hearts are healing. All of us will experience grief at some point in our lives and helping them through the grieving process in their own time and way is the very best way to show your love.
National Institutes of Health, “Mourning the Death of a Spouse”
AgingCare, “6 Myths About Grieving”