No matter your age, losing a parent is a difficult and heartbreaking experience. The grief of losing your mother or father can be lonely and isolating. Whether the loss was sudden or expected, the season of grief and mourning can be acute.
It is especially hard to watch your own mother or father lose one or both of their own parents. So, how can you best support a parent after your grandparents pass away? As your parent/s mourn their loss, it can feel challenging to find a way to show them you care. You are also grieving the loss of your grandparent yourself, which can also complicate your process of support. If you need a few ideas on how to support your parents through the loss of your grandparents, we are here with a few ideas.
Spend Time with Them
One of the most supportive things you can do to help your parent/s mourn the loss of their parent/s is to sit with them and just listen. While it can be tempting to fill the silence with words and activities, it is actually very helpful for grieving people to have space to process. You can offer so much support and comfort by being an active listener to their grief. Since you are most likely experiencing your own grief at the loss of a grandparent, it can be helpful to find your own support system
We love the advice that Grieve Well shares about how to be present with grieving people, “Give those in grief your undivided attention. If by phone, go somewhere without any distractions and find small ways to indicate that you are listening and concerned. If on a video call, use eye contact, posture, and your undivided attention. Try to listen more and talk less.”
When you spend time with your parent/s, it is also so important to encourage them to talk about their mom or dad. Reflecting on their memories, the qualities about their parents that they loved, funny stories, and even the hard times, can be therapeutic and helpful to their spirit as they grieve their parent/s. It can also play an important role in your own grieving process, as it helps you learn more about your grandmother or grandfather, and further understand the experiences that shaped your mother or father’s life.
Unfortunately, the loss of a parent can usher in extremely complicated logistics. Planning a funeral and executing a will normally fall to the next of kin, which means that adult children usually carry this type of load. If you have the capacity and the time, it is hugely helpful for you to help your parents with planning the funeral arrangements. Grieving people often struggle with time management and detail management, and your help with planning these details can make a huge difference.
Another great way to help your parent/s mourn the loss of their own parent/s is to go with them to a favorite place. This might be a place from their childhood that reminds them of their mom and dad, a local place of worship that was special to their family, or a favorite restaurant. You can be creative – think of unique places that will help connect you and your parent/s to your grandparents. It can be so special and a great way to further spend time talking about family, and play another important role in your own processing of your loss.
Give them a Remembrance Gift
You can also show your parent/s support with a remembrance gift. There are so many unique memorial gifts available, so spend time choosing one for your parent/s that will feel personal and meaningful.
If your mom or dad is grieving the loss of their mother, I LOVE this Butterfly Garden Seed Set. It can be customized with your grandma’s name, and the flowers that grow from this seed set will attract butterflies. It is such a special way to honor your grandma and a special gift for your mom. Our In Memory of Mom gift set is also SO special and customized for the loss of a mom. Lastly, we have a gorgeous In Memory of Mom Necklace, and a Butterfly Candle that can be personalized in memory of your mom.
If your mom or dad is grieving the loss of their father, our Custom Memorial Candle is a really special gift to give to your parent/s. The scent of the candle is slightly earthy and woodsy, making it a great gift for anyone. During the checkout process, you add your grandpa’s name to the candle, and our team will customize the custom memorial candle specially for your parent/s.
Lastly, the In Memory Feather Ornament is a great gift if your parent/s has lost both their mom and dad. We offer charms that say “Mom” and “Dad” and you can customize the amount and names of the charms to your ornament to reflect your own family’s story.
A professionally framed photo is another special way to honor and support your parent/s as they mourn the loss of their own parent/s. You can choose special photos from their childhood, from more recent years as a family, or hire an artist to recreate a rendition of a special time together.
Make them Freezer Meals
You can also help support your mom or dad with helping them with food preparation. Cooking is SO hard after you lose a parent, and your support with physical needs will truly be a gift to your parent/s. A few ideas include taking them their favorite dinner meal (it can be from their favorite takeout, or a home cooked dinner), preparing freezer meals for dinner that can easily be thrown into the crock pot, purchasing easy breakfast meals that can be stored in the freezer, or doing their grocery shopping for them. Many families bond and connect over shared meals and treasured recipes, so the process of recreating those family memories in honor of your grandparents can also be an important experience for you in your own time of loss and grief.
I always recommend Take them a Meal if you would like to set up a meal scheduling service for a loved one. They also have a great online resource of recipes that are designed for the freezer. Be sure to check out their other helpful ideas in their blogs about ways to use meals to provide care and support for someone.
Collect Memories and Make a Memory Book
You can also make your parent/s a custom memory book filled with images and stories about their mother or father. Photos can provide an important link to the past, helping immensely with the grieving process. As Psychology Today shares,
“Many small things, such as food, photographs and songs, can be vehicles for solace when they provide links to a loved past. In times of distress some people find the forgotten scent, a song heard together as a way of keeping the past in the present. Healing can be helped by drawing upon the past as a means of living fully in the present.”
This photo book can be something you make yourself with photos that you have, or you can invite friends and family members to contribute stories and photographs. Your parent/s will love being able to see new photos of their mother and father, read stories, and spend time as a family collectively grieving your grandparent/s.
We love Shutterfly, Chatbooks, and Artifact Uprising as great options. Each brand is at different price points, so you can find something perfect for any budget.
Take Responsibilities off their Plate
Lastly, you can show huge support to your parent/s by taking responsibilities off their plate. A few ideas include cleaning their home, helping with the yard, caring for their pets, assisting with the laundry, helping clean out their parent’s home, or doing general home maintenance.
It can be very difficult to support your mom or dad as they grieve the loss of a parent, especially because you will likely be experiencing grief yourself. We hope this article gave you a few ideas of how to support your parent/s while also honoring your own individual and collective grief.