A home is not just a house with four walls, a bathroom, a couple of bedrooms and a kitchen; it is a lifetime of memories and sacrifices.
When your parents have to leave their home for a retirement or assisted living community, it can drain them emotionally, physically and spiritually.
So how do you help your parents come to grips with losing their home?
First, you must understand that grief is like a roller coaster with ups, downs, highs and lows. And the roller coaster takes us through five stages according to the research of psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross--denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Denial is the assertion that the lost they are experiencing is not happening. When your parents are going through this stage, they may not only deny what's happening to them; but they may minimize it or bury it--alive.
Once they transition from denial anger sets in. Like most of us do when we are hurting, they look for someone to blame. It may be doctors, family, friends or even themselves.
Bargaining is like making a deal with God--if you take away the pain I am feeling, I will do this or that. This is the classic example of trying to escape the blinding pain of losing someone or something that is loved and cherished.
Depression is that gut-wrenching feeling of sadness that zaps the desire to do anything. Some may feel that their lives have little to no purpose. The blanket of hopelessness and despair can overwhelm them to such a degree that suicide is seen as their only option to get some relief.
Those that survive the descent of depression can find the hope and relief of reaching the acceptance stage.
The acceptance stage brings peace. It allows for them to finally get some rest from the erratic ups and downs of the roller coaster. They can start to see that their lives still have purpose and that life does go on after lost.
As your parents face these five stages, you can help by being a sounding board, having a little patience and securing professional help for them if needed.
A number of senior parents want someone to listen to their hurts and frustrations. They do not expect you to solve their problems or heal their wounds, but to give them the time to vent and release their negative emotions.
Time is the key to helping your mom or dad recover from the lost of their home. They may vacillate between the stages for months at a time. Your ability to stand by them and give them the time and space they need will help them process their lost and move forward.
If you find that your parent is not coping well with their loss, seek out professional counsel for them. You will certainly want to do this if they linger in extreme anger or the depression stage too long.