What to do with Mom After Dad Died: 7 ways to Support a Grieving Parent

Grieving the loss of a spouse is an immeasurable pain, particularly for the surviving partner.

The death of a loved one is never easy, but when a parent loses a spouse, the grief often takes a different dimension, impacting both the surviving parent and their adult children.

This article provides guidance on how adult children can navigate the complexities of their grieving parent’s journey and lend emotional support after their dad has passed away.

Read on to find a blend of therapeutic advice and heartfelt experiences that will empower you to be there for your surviving parent.

Understanding the Grief Journey of a Surviving Parent

The grief of a surviving spouse is profound. This grieving person has lost their lifelong partner, and the world as they knew it has changed.

It’s essential to understand that this grieving process has no fixed timetable. Each parent may experience a myriad of emotions, from sadness and loneliness to devastation for the deceased.

Recognizing the uniqueness of your surviving parent’s grief journey is the first step in offering support.

How Does Grief Differ for an Adult Child vs. a Grieving Parent?

As an adult child, losing your dad means the death of a parent, while your grieving parent has lost a spouse.

This distinction is vital. Your memories and connections with your dad might revolve around childhood moments, guidance, and support, while your surviving parent has lost their confidant, partner, and friend.

Respecting and understanding these differences will help bridge emotional gaps. Expect the surviving parent to take time to grieve and come to terms with the loss .

Why is the Role of the Adult Child So Crucial?

In times of grief, the adult child becomes an anchor for the surviving parent. You can help your parent navigate through the rough waters of their grief, ensuring they don’t feel alone in this difficult time.

Often, the adult child provides both emotional and practical support, from attending support group meetings together to managing finances.

What to Expect When Your Grieving Parent Starts Making Decisions

Grief can cloud judgment, and it’s not uncommon for the grieving parent to make decisions that might seem out of character.

Whether it’s about finance, arrangements, or memorial decisions, it’s crucial to offer guidance without being overbearing.

Remember, they are dealing with the loss of a huge support system and trying to cope with life without their spouse.

When Should One Seek the Aid of a Therapist?

It’s important to note that while grief is natural, sometimes, the surviving parent might benefit from professional assistance.

A therapist can provide strategies to cope, manage emotions, and move forward. If your parent is struggling to function daily or expresses continual feelings of devastation, it might be time to consider therapy.

How to Offer Emotional Support in Little Things

The little things often mean the most. Simple gestures like making a phone call, sending a greeting, or even just a surprise visit can provide immense comfort.

Remembering anniversaries, sharing memories of your dad, or just listening can offer invaluable emotional support to your grieving parent.

The Importance of Remembering the Person Who Died

While it might be painful, reminiscing about the person who died is therapeutic.

Sharing stories, looking at photos, or even visiting places of significance can be healing for both the surviving parent and the adult child.

Dealing with Financial and Practical Aspects After the Passing

The death of a spouse often brings a slew of practical concerns. Helping your grieving parent manage finances, legal documentation, or any other arrangements is not just a practical gesture but a significant emotional support.

Staying Connected: Phone Calls, Greetings, and Visits

Consistent communication is vital. Even if you don’t live nearby, regular phone calls, messages, or even video chats can ensure your grieving parent feels connected and supported.

Moving Forward: Embracing the New Normal Together

Grief is a journey. While the pain might never completely fade, it’s possible to find a new normal.

By embracing change and moving forward together, both the adult child and the surviving parent can find peace and hope.

In Summary:

  • Every grieving journey is unique; be patient and understanding with your surviving parent.
  • Recognize the distinct grief of losing a parent versus a spouse.
  • Offer consistent emotional and practical support.
  • Celebrate and remember the life of the person who passed.
  • Embrace change and find a new path forward together.



1. How can I help my surviving parent cope after my dad died?

It’s essential to offer consistent emotional support after your dad’s death. Be there to listen, share memories, and provide practical assistance when necessary.

Encouraging your grieving parent to join a grief support group or see a therapist can also be beneficial.

Remember, the little things, like a phone call or a surprise visit, can make a significant difference.

2. My mother is struggling with decisions after my father passed away. How can I assist her without overstepping?

It’s a delicate balance. After losing a spouse, a grieving parent may be overwhelmed with decisions.

Offer guidance by providing information, listening to their concerns, and being there as a sounding board.

However, always respect their autonomy and ensure they’re comfortable with the choices they’re making.

3. Is it normal for my grieving parent to express deep sadness and loneliness long after my father died?

Yes, grief doesn’t follow a set timetable. The death of a spouse can lead to profound feelings of sadness and loneliness, which can persist for an extended period. Each person’s grief journey is unique.

It’s essential to offer emotional support and, if needed, suggest seeking advice from a therapist to navigate these complex feelings.

4. What can I do if I live far from my grieving parent and can’t be physically present?

Even if you don’t live nearby, there are ways to support your grieving parent. Regular phone calls, video chats, and messages can make them feel connected and loved.

Consider setting up a consistent communication schedule or sending surprise greetings to remind them they’re not alone.

5. How can I help my surviving parent find a “new normal” after my dad’s death?

The concept of a “new normal” is about finding a balance between honoring the memory of the person who died and moving forward.

Encourage your grieving parent to engage in activities they love, join support groups, and perhaps even consider new hobbies or experiences. Patience, understanding, and time are key.



This post is written and edited by Sandy who is a clinical pharmacist with over 20 years of experience specializing in pre-natal and post-natal care.