Many Baby Boomers Come With Experience With Death and Dying
I personally find that baby boomers and seniors are the true experts on how to deal with death and dying. My father in law just passed the day after Christmas. I am reviewing, once again, the practical things that must be done before and after the funeral. Once you are in the midst of the emotional pain you are reminded of the sensitive issues.
Often, I try to provide support in practical ways. Yet, as I get older it sure would be helpful to have someone half my age working along side me, or running errands that can help the person going through grief.
I actually find solace in the details at times. Yet, the practical things must be shared with our younger generations. For example, prior to going out of town I received two calls from members of my church offering to check in on my mom. That was a comfort. There were several practical helps offered or provided.
Some folks help clean,cook or write out cards. But whatever, is done before and after is often learned via experiances. I have learned that what is done for me is what I should try to do for others. Sometimes those things are small but powerful.
Yet, I am distressed at how much our younger generation does not share in this process. Many just don’t know because they were omitted from the process or just did not have time. Why?
During the holidays it seems that one of the most practical things we can do is to share how to give to others during times of grief and despair. Many are hurting when they reflect on their losses. How can we help?How do we teach our children and their children to help?
So please share your practical tips. Those things we should also teach our our younger generation.
17 thoughts on “Practical Gifts To Help During Grief That Baby Boomers Can Teach Younger Generations”
This is such a great post! And you are so right–our young people have no clue about how to help their elders during the loss of a loved one. Why? One of the reasons is because I don’t believe they think of death nor see it as something that can affect them so they don’t have any knowledge of how to reach out and help.
I do believe parents owe it to their children to have “the talk” in the same way that mothers had “the talk” with their daughters about the birds and bees. Oh, but my mother never had that talk with me either. Did yours?
Thank you for addressing the issue. Passing along what we know to the next generation is critical. One thing I think younger people are missing is the value of just being there. We don’t always know what to do or what to say, but being there is so vital. The person who has so much to process and do can sometimes find solace in knowing that if they think of something, there’s someone to handle it. Just be there. To check the mail. To answer the phone. To help write a note. Just be there.
Bev my mom had that birds and bees talk with me in a very direct no nonesense way. It actually made me blush.
I learned about dealing with hospital visits, home visits, etc because as a young child I was with her while she did those things. As I grew older I was, at first almost resentful of spending the time, but later appreciated the instruction.
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We learn by doing. I think it is important to share with our young family members while we are going through the process of dealing with a death in the family so they understand why things are done the way they are. If you get them involved they will know what to do when they are put in that situation.
Thanks for the informative post Rosie.
I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law. You have been in my thoughts and prayers.
While I do hear where you are coming from on this, I have witnessed the opposite with a group of young men and women, and teenagers, from our church. They really rally to the needs of others, but generally within their own age groups. We need to find a way to bridge the gap and mentor these wonderful younger ones. Their help and energy would contribute so much in a grief situation.
Thanks Pam, actually it was my father in law. Ray lost his mother a few years ago. My heart feels good to hear about the young folks in your church. I am convinced that every ministry in houses of worship should include young folks in a mentee role. How encouraging to see the rich learning and experience they are getting.
Rosie, You have my sincere condolences on the passing of your father in law. My mother-in-law lived with us for 18 yrs before she died of lung cancer in 2004. The dying process was very difficult, but she was graceful and died with dignity. What followed was an ordeal to say the least. There are so many details that have to be taken care of while dealing with the grief. I found that the grief had to take a back burner while the details had to be dealt with first and foremost.
If we can keep some of the details of what WE WANT, insurance paperwork, death notice info, and a special letter to each of our loved ones who may survive us in a folder or box, it will help our own children deal with our deaths and clear up some of the possible confusion.
Your blog on this issue is one I’m seeing in my own family while 3 of our elderly family members are in a nursing home and coming closer to the end of their lives every day. 2 of the 3’s own children have turned their backs completely! My mom and myself are the only ones who care for my aunt, and a cousin and Bart & I are the only ones caring for my uncle!
At first, I even hated to be there to visit. I felt so sorry for them that they had to be there in the first place, plus seeing the torment (or what I perceived to be torment!) on some of the faces of the other residents. I made a point of telling my young grandchildren that visiting the nursing home brought such joy to some of the residents. So many of them didn’t ever get a visitor.
As the months have progressed, I have made contact and befriended many of the other residents there. I now look forward to meeting with my new buddies! Now when I bring the grandchildren, they even know the names of some of the other residents and look forward to seeing the joy they bring to them there. I must say my daughter sort of resents the time I spend there and simply doesn’t understand why I do it. I tell her that I’m doing a favor for some of my family members whose own children simply will not do it.
All we can do is set a good example, let our children and grandchildren in on the WHY we do it, and hope for the best. Ultimately, what our children do is up to them, but if we gently SHOW them what needs to be done, they may just GET IT.
Happy New Year, My Diva Sisters! Hugs, Debbie Mormino
Debbie, you just said a mouthful of wisdom. Showing by example as well as doing! God Bless you in your much needed visits to the nursing home. I can only hope that the children somehow get to read your note and have a change of heart.
I have enjoyed reading the post and the comments. I agree that there are many lessons we can teach our children to prepare them for times like this. I do especially like the ideas of the dying leaving instructions in a box for the living to follow. It will cut down on so much unnecessary confusion if they do that, as well as leading by example. I would say eighty percent of what I learned from my mother I learned by watching her. I try to let my daughter see me doing the kinds of things I want her to take on. Sometimes, though, I leave her behind because it’s easier to get things done without her. I should stop doing that.
I extend my condolences on the passing of your father-in-law. I know one of his biggest accomplishments was to help make Ray the great man that he is.
Speaking as a 45-year-old, I would say that generally ‘nobody asks me’ when it comes to the funeral arrangements for a family member. Usually, there are very bereaved people who are deeply involved in all of the arrangements. Generally, I’m given a very do-able assignment, such as, “Your job is to pick up [family member] and bring him/her to the wake.” Or, “We ordered a meat tray from the supermarket. Your job is to pick that up.”
My assessment: As long as there are those senior to me around (and there always are), those seniors will give themselves the most important assignments.
Thank you, Rosie, for taking time away from your personal grief to write this important post. I agree that in times of great stress the more practical steps one can make the better. And I also agree that younger folks have often been sheltered from the grieving process and, as a result, don’t follow through in ways that might be helpful. In my own life, I’ve become much more thoughtful after my own losses. I guess it’s a process of maturing and experience. I’m so sorry about your father-in-law. Please give my best to your husband.
My prayers are with you and your family during this time. Since I do not have children, I’ve never thought about the younger generation not knowing what is needed during a time like this. Thank you for your post.
Rosie, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Please give my sympathies to your husband as well.
As for the young ones, I agree with what many here have written: that children learn by example, but also I think it’s important to “model” what just “being there” means for support for anyone facing a difficult time, including the death of a loved one.
In today’s high tech world where lots of kids have phones and gadgets that keep them “connected” with their friends (and sometimes family..lol), I think it’s important that they know how important it is to turn it all off and be present (in soul and in their hearts) with another when someone needs emotional and spiritual support. You might call it “old school connection.”
The more parents practice this with their kids, the more they lead by example. If we (as parents, coaches, leaders, etc.) practiced active listening, for example, our kids would know how it feels. Chances are they would then intuitively know what to do (and how to “be there”) for someone in need.
Betty, I too, don’t have any children. I only observe and experiance other folks children. Of course I wonder how my children would be if I did have some. Of course I would teach them all I know and then some. Pray for them and try real hard to let them go, only hoping they do the right thing.
First let me extend my sincere condolence to Ray, you and your family in your time of loss. Unfortunately death is a fact of life and something that we all will experience if we live long enough (smile). I recommend that the children in the family take on age appropriate roles in the process. When my Great Aunt died this July the entire family wrote down their memories of her life and we published it as a book that we made available as a keep sake at her memorial service.
This allowed everyone including the youngest family member who was 5 years old to contribute and provide something for everyone to reflect and share as time goes by. For our Family this was a practical gift and keep sake that included the children in the process.
My prayers are with you and yours and it is a blessing to know that you will all be reunited on resurrection day.
Any wonder there’s a long list of replies?? Great topic to bring up and into the open, I for one learned a great deal after losing my mother. Yet still wonder why, the grand-children now seem totally unscathed and oblivious to the importance of ‘family ties’?? Makes no sense when we have done everything to instill family tradition, and values. Life’s not taken so seriously I feel.
Every Christmas since, nothing has changed so I echo your query!
Hold onto your faith, and to the belief many hold onto you!
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