Tips for Caring for Loved Ones When There is a Death in the Family

caring for loved ones

Death is an unfortunate but inevitable part of life, but it is never easy to cope with the loss of a loved one. It can be incredibly difficult to imagine what life might be like with the one you lost no longer being around, and that feeling of grief might fade over time, but it never completely leaves you.

A death in the family is made even more challenging when you feel responsible for caring for other relatives and close friends who the loss has also impacted, and this can get overwhelming very quickly. If you have found yourself in this position recently and are feeling at a loss over how to act, below are some tips that might be beneficial when you feel you need to step up and care for others around you during this difficult time.

1.   Be Patient

Grief can make people act in strange ways, and it isn’t uncommon for some to lash out at those around them as they struggle with the anger that they feel at the loss of someone they care about.

While you should never put up with abuse, it is important to practice some patience if the grieving party is being short with you or difficult in some other ways. Setting boundaries here is worthwhile to ensure you are not being taken advantage of or used as a metaphorical punching bag, so try to find the line between patience and respecting yourself in the process.

2.   Find Some Positive Distractions for Them

It can be easy to want to shut yourself away from the world when you are in the throes of grief, but staying in bed for days on end and avoiding company could be more damaging in the long term and encourage feelings of depression. Of course, it’s perfectly normal and OK to feel sad during times like these, and no one should feel they need to pretend otherwise.

However, finding some positive distractions that could help provide some respite from grief can be very beneficial. Consider suggestions for a short walk so that they can get some fresh air, some soothing arts and crafts, or even having a meal together so that you can both have some company during your grief period. You might also want to try having conversations about other things going on to shift the focus from your loss, even if it’s just for a short time.

3.   Consider Sending a Gift

Another way you might be able to cheer someone up during their period of mourning is by sending them a thoughtful gift. This is particularly useful if you are unable to visit in person immediately, as this is a token to show them that they are in your thoughts. Sympathy flowers can be a good choice, but if you want to do something more personal, there are other options to explore.

Look at this selection of gifts that are perfect if you are looking at how to help your parent mourn the loss of their parent, for example. These personalized gifts can also be kept as keepsakes as a way to memorialize the lost loved one.

4.   Make Sure You Are Giving Them Space

While your instinct might drive you to be there for the person you love as much as possible, you do also need to be mindful that you’re not smothering them. Everyone needs space to grieve, yourself included, and so having some time alone is necessary during this time. Make it clear that you are there for them and are happy to come over to stay or do something else that will be helpful, but also respect their need for space to process their grief and reflect on the circumstances that they find themselves in. They’ll also need time to rest as the loss of a loved one is emotionally exhausting.

5.   Make Sure They Are Eating and Looking After Themselves

If you are concerned that your loved one’s grief is impacting their ability to care for themselves properly, you might find that helping to prepare meals for them can be useful for them and give them peace of mind. Cooking nutritious meals is a task that is likely to be far from their minds at this time, but they must still have healthy foods for their well-being.

Batch cooking things like casseroles or other meals that can be easily reheated in the oven would be ideal. Offering to do some grocery shopping or even doing a quick tidy of their home might be something you could do, too, if you’re willing.

6.   Assisting with Funeral Arrangements

Funeral arrangements can be quite distressing, but they are necessary to make sure that the deceased has an appropriate and thoughtful send-off so that their loved ones can say goodbye. Sometimes people find throwing themselves into planning the funeral can keep them occupied, so they might not always want your help with this.

However, offering your services to assist with these arrangements will be appreciated nonetheless, even if it’s something as simple as telling others when and where the service will take place.

7.   Look After Yourself

While all of the above are great ways to help someone you care about deal with their grief, you also need to think about how you are coping with the loss of a family member. It is very noble and kind to put others’ needs first, particularly during these tougher parts of life, but there is a limit to this.

Allow yourself time to grieve too, and if you feel like you need to take a step back for a day or two, then do so. This way, you’ll reduce the risk of burning yourself out and be able to work through your grief period more healthily, too.

It’s never easy to lose a beloved family member, but you might find that some of your relatives are struggling with their death more than others. This could be because of the nature of their relationship or something else, but if you feel that they need some additional support during their grief period, consider the tips above and use some or all of them to help.

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