Last week on Health Futures – Taking Stock in You radio show and podcast, host Bob Roth had the pleasure of having Caroline Kawashima, grief counselor and coach, on the show. Together they were able to talk through healthy ways to grieve and other advice on grief that may speak to you.
For the full episode, you can find it on our YouTube page here.
You can also find the podcast on any of these sites:
Here is an overview of the topic discussed this week.
The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences we face in life. As we age, grief and loss become even more common as we see those close to us pass on. While the grieving process looks different for everyone, there are healthy ways for older adults to process grief that can help them find meaning amidst the pain.
Understanding Grief in Older Adults
Experiencing the death of a spouse, child, sibling or close friend is inevitable as we get older. However, older adults are more likely to hide their grief and push through the pain in silence. Isolation and loneliness often exacerbate the grieving process.
Suppressing grief for too long can lead to serious health complications. Older adults who don’t properly grieve have a higher risk for depression, anxiety, weakened immune system and even heart disease. Finding healthy grieving practices tailored for older adults is critical.
Healthy Ways for Older Adults to Grieve
While everyone grieves differently, there are proven strategies that can help older adults process their loss in a meaningful way:
1. Talk About Your Loved One
Keep their memory alive by sharing stories and reminiscing about your lost loved one with family and friends. This helps you honor their life while finding comfort through community.
2. Express Your Feelings
Allow yourself to fully feel your emotions through crying, journaling, creating art or music, etc. Suppressing grief can be harmful to your mental and physical health.
3. Celebrate Milestones
Celebrate your loved one’s birthday, your anniversary, holidays and other milestones by doing an activity that honors them. Light a candle, visit their grave, make their favorite recipe or share a toast in their memory.
4. Embrace Routines
Maintaining routines such as walking, gardening or reading can help restore a sense of normalcy and order amidst the chaos of grief. Slowly re-engaging in hobbies you used to enjoy with your loved one can also be therapeutic.
5. Join a Support Group
Connecting with others going through a similar grieving process reduces isolation and helps normalize your experience. Many hospices and religious organizations offer grief support groups for older adults.
6. Consider Professional Help
If your grief becomes overwhelming, consider working with a grief counselor or therapist who specializes in helping older adults work through traumatic loss. They can provide personalized coping strategies.
7. Practice Gratitude
While grief naturally makes you focus on loss, making an effort to notice and give thanks for the blessings in your life can help shift your mindset to one of hope.
Find Healthy Ways to Honor Your Loved One
The grieving process looks different for everyone. Be patient with yourself and don’t feel pressured to “get over it”. Seek support from loved ones, professionals and your community. Most importantly, reflect on how your lost loved one would want you to live life in their honor. Finding meaningful ways to embrace life while incorporating their memory into your routines can help you cope with grief in a healthy way.