Life Transitions and Adults

Adults/Seniors and Grief

While all people experience some aspect of the grieving stages, each person’s experience is unique to them. Thus the length of time, the intensity, and the manner in which they manifest their grieving must be respected. In supporting them it is important to remember the following:

  • Each person will experience a grieving stage in their own manner and time.
  • It is not possible or desirable to dictate their processing time line.
  • Provide understanding, empathy and good listening to the person at each point in their grieving.
  • Support the mourning rituals and behavior that brings them comfort, as long as it is not harmful to themselves or others.
  • If behavior becomes harmful, guide them to finding other behaviors and to seek appropriate professional help.
  • Be patient with their need to remember and share their story.
  • Be alert to changes in grieving stages, emotional needs, and behaviors.
  • Be sensitive to grieving styles so that the person’s actions are not misunderstood.
  • Assist others in understanding the person’s needs impacting their behaviors, so that the appropriate support and adjustments may be provided.


  • Local Seniors Centers
  • AARP, including their support programs for: Grandparents raising grandchildren and Widows/widowers
  • Local Hospice Programs
  • Local County Office of Aging

Physical Issues:

– Sleeping patterns (too much, not enough, location)
Eating patterns (regular, balanced, adequate, cooking, eating alone)

– Personal hygiene (bathing, laundry, changing clothing)

– Environment (cleaning house, dishes, care of pets, children, yard)

– Regular routine (work, school, errands, church attendance, other involvement)

Financial Situation:

– Cash flow/income

– Bill payment

– Filing of required paperwork

– Meeting deadlines

– Funeral follow through (burial, scattering of ashes, head stone)

Connection with/about person who died:

– Communication with deceased (dreams, memories, journaling, prayer, talking with)

– Cleaning out personal effects (clothing. possessions, personal space)

– Pain of missing the person and manifestations of that pain

– Sharing about the deceased (story telling, activities, memorial events)

Three-Six Months 

Routines and schedules:Finances:
– Eating, sleeping patterns, personal hygiene- Work, school, activities- Environment; home, car, yard- Paperwork status– Follow up filing (Social security, insurances policies, taxes)- Medical bills, funeral bills- Thank you notes
Decreased personal effect:Grieving support measures:
– Organization of clothing, personal items- Arrangement of personal space (room, apartment, office,)- Closure for personal accounts, (credit cards, subscriptions, memberships, ownerships)– Support group
– Reading/video materials
– Journaling
– Seeking counseling (spiritual/other)
– Cemetery visits
– Memorial events/activities
– Coping skills
– Communication with the deceased

Six-Twelve Months 

Categories for review/check in:

– Personal care/routines

– Financial status

– Paperwork completion

– Grief processing methods/activities

– Support options

– Links to community resources

– Identification of ongoing “circle of support”

– Activities that bring comfort/peace

– Activities that bring enjoyment

The Twelfth Month: 

– Identify challenges of second year

– Identify resource/support options

– Discussion of coping skills

– Reinforcement of “circle of support”

Books for Adults


  • After the Funeral by Jane Loretta Winsch (Paulist Press, 1995)
  • Healing and Growing Through Grief by Donna O’Toole (Compassion Books, 1993)
  • Praying Through Grief by Maureeyn O’Brien
    (resources for prayer services for those grieving a loss)
  • What Can I Say? by Kelly Osmour
  • In Times of Illness by Robert Hamma
  • Through Good Times and Bad by Robert Hamma and Kahtyn Schneider
  • Simply Surrender by John Kirvan
  • Peace of Heart by John Kirvan
  • You Shall Not Want by Richard Chilson
  • Befriend the Darkness, Welcome the Light by Joyce Rupp


  • Cowbells and Courage by Pat Paige
  • Does Anyone Hurt This Bad and Live by Carlene Vester Eneroth
  • Waterbugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney
  • Toward Peace: Prayers for the Widowed by Beverley S. Gordon

Click on the following links to learn more: