Helping a Parent to Deal with their Partners Death

There are many things our parents do as we get older that strike us with the realisation that they are not invincible, they are fallible and they are not immortal. It could be the first time they make a mistake driving after we have been driving for some years. It could be they trip and fall or can’t get our kid’s names right. The process of ageing is slow and it is something we generally ignore but when one parent dies it really drives home the reality that our parents are human after all. It is a very challenging time but you can be a massive help and whether or not you feel like a grownup your parent is another adult human being who needs your support. Here are some helpful points to keep in mind for the future or to take on right now if you are dealing with his situation.

Dealing With the Admin

Admin may well be a very callous word when used in this kind of situation but the reality of dealing with the death of a family member can often be full of just that; paperwork and admin. Grieving is a critical part of this process but before that can happen the organisation must be handled. The remaining parent may be struggling at this point, they may be confused by it all or not want to deal with it. This is the time for the children to take control.

The first thing to look at is the funeral arrangements. Get this bit sorted and you will have helped in a big way. The parent may have had a pre-paid funeral plan which means you really don’t have to do much apart from finding the plan and alert the provider. They will then organise everything and it will all be paid for. However, finding out if there is a plan is the key. The Funeral Planning Authority has a system where you can trace a funeral plan but this will only work if the provider your parent chose is registered with them. It is highly likely they are because most providers work with the FPA. If not then you may need to start digging through bank statements and trying to find any obvious payments.

If they do not have a plan then it is a case of speaking to your local or a recommended funeral directors and taking their lead. If your remaining parent is not keen on discussing you may need to start making plans for music, guests, the wake and more yourself. Be sympathetic, don’t push too hard but do allow your parent to see what you have planned before in case you have accidentally picked something they really won’t like. As well as the funeral there is the banking and all the other financial side of things. If there is a will then this will be sorted quite easily through the solicitor. In regards to the bank, check with them but it is all fairly simple once a death certificate has been issued. While the spouse is alive things are simple if it’s a joint account.


This is a process that is what people expect to be doing after a death rather than hours of paperwork and planning. Grieving is a hard process and a personal one. You will have your own sadness and loss to deal with and perhaps that of other siblings and grandchildren. But in amongst all of that, you have a grieving parent who is also another adult just like you. There are professional services around grief counselling but many of these are private services that do cost money, however, they can be very worthwhile.

Often the initial phase of grief is really a superficial time of emotion or denial covered up with being busy sorting “things” out. Once the funeral is over the real grieving tends to begin. In some cases, a long term illness can mean much of the heartache has already been dealt with and the final loss can almost be a relief. In other cases, it’s a shock and will take time. Be supportive of all moods, be sympathetic but also don’t be afraid to let your parent know if they are letting themselves go, doing themselves harm or not looking after themselves. The time may have come now for you to be the parent. This guide offers more details about this process

Moving On

Moving on can be very hard. It may also mean different things to different people. For some it may even mean going on holidays on their own, meeting a new partner and more. To others it may be about learning to live alone and stay happy, joining clubs or taking up a new hobby. It is really important to support this process and not judge! Regardless of what you think unless its really doing your parent harm let them do it. It’s just like the process of being a teenager and being told you can’t do something. Make efforts to include the parent in your life a little more, perhaps some time with the kids, or being invited over for dinner more often, use these times to see how they are and what they are up to. Be ready to encourage things you may not like…maybe you think bowls is boring but it could be very good for your parent to start playing!

It Is Never Easy

There is just no easy way to lose a loved one, to deal with it and to move on. But doing it together will make it better. Your parent will be so grateful for your support even if they don’t always show it at the time. Look ahead and cherish your loved ones.