Parents should be a source of comfort. That’s why it can be difficult to be there for your parents when they need help. As your parents age, they may need your help more and more often. This is simple enough when they need your help with chores or a ride to the doctor. When they need emotional help, however, you may find yourself at a loss.
How do you support our parents when they’re experiencing emotional distress?
How Have They Supported You?
One way to figure out how to be there for your parents is to ask yourself how they supported you in the past. When people aren’t sure what to say, they often imagine what they’d want to hear. If you’ve ever gone through what your parents are going through, remember what your parents said to you.
This also extends to things they’ve done for you. If they offered you hugs or quality time, make the same offers back.
Ask Them How You Can Help
If you are at a loss for how your parents helped you, or what you try doesn’t work… be straightforward. Tell them you noticed they’re going through a tough time and you want to help. Ask them how you can help, or give them suggestions about things you can do. They might say they just want some “alone time” or they don’t want you to worry about it. In which case, let them know you will be there if they change their mind.
Lighten Their Load
While some people prefer to work through their problems, others have a harder time functioning under serious emotional distress. If possible, do what you can to help around the house. Offer to run errands for them or help them clean up.
Even if they’re too prideful to accept outright help, this will go a long way to helping. Giving them time to rest and mull over their feelings will help them feel better faster.
Remember your parents are only human. It might take some time for them to mourn a loss or recover from an illness. Don’t expect them to get back up to snuff quickly. There’s no telling how long they’ll need your help.
Whether your parents are mourning a death, recovering from illness, or dealing with depression, there are concrete ways you can help them. Don’t feel hopeless if your parents are going through tough times. With your support, they will get through it.