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Seniors who suffer the loss of a loved one, particularly a spouse or a caretaker, may face a host of challenges accompanying the loss. Parishes often step into the gap by offering programs and ministries to help move seniors through their grief with needed support. The list below was created by Carol De Muria, who coordinates the parish grief support group in St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.
  • Loneliness and lack of purpose. Normal activities of sharing time together, maintaining a home, serving as caretaker, are ended, leaving the grieving to feel useless and lost.
  • They become socially isolated, especially those who don’t drive, leaving them with no access to Mass, to visit others or attend parish support groups.
  • Insensitive responses/suggestions to bereaved. Though usually well-intentioned, advice to let go of their home, their possessions, or their pets to reduce responsibilities, can leave the recently bereaved in tears at the suggestion of yet more loss.
  • Adult children dismiss parent’s needs. Children are sometimes unable to deal with a parent’s sadness at the death of their spouse and often advise parents to just “get over it.”
  • An inability to navigate essential programs. The work involved in handling Social Security, Medicare, pensions or dealing with the estate, can be overwhelming without support.
  • Financial insecurity, brought about by the loss of a partner’s benefits or income, or increasing health care costs are a serious added concern for older adults.
  • Second guessing health care choices for the deceased, especially those made at the recommendation of medical professionals, often leave the bereaved feeling responsible in some way for the death.