At 81, Nellie is a robust Ukrainian woman who still makes delicious strawberry jam, walks her small dog twice daily and never misses a sporting event if one of her grandkids is playing. But lately she’s been lacking her usual vibrancy… obviously experiencing grief over the recent loss of her sister.
“At my age, death is not far up the road. If it’s not you getting there first, it’s your mate, your sister, or your long-time friend,” she told her daughter, as they drove home from the second funeral in as many weeks.
Illness, death and attendance at funerals are inevitable events in life for everyone, but for older people, these experiences are often front and centre, overshadowing the everyday pleasures they might otherwise enjoy. For some, sadness is a quiet personal journey; perhaps they come from an era or a family culture that dictates private suffering. Others want to talk about their sadness – they find solace in sharing their grief. There is no best or proper way to process loss, what matters most is that people be given the liberty to experience grief as they choose.
If you have a loved one who is at that place in life where they find themselves bidding farewell to many friends and loved ones, you may find yourself at a loss for ways to comfort or support them. Here are some suggestions from a variety of grief experts:
Being healthy and well as you age is a blessing, but it is no fun watching the people you love languish and pass on. If this is happening to someone you know offer the gifts of compassion, time and a gentle listening heart.