It’s never easy to deal with the death of a parent. Whether they lived a long and happy life before passing or they died unexpectedly, it’s always hard to believe that the most important person in your life is not there anymore. Nobody ever really expects it to happen, as a result nobody is every ready to experience the emotions and thoughts that hit you when something so severe occurs.
You’ll be flooded with question, such as “should I be sad?”, “Should I act strong?”, “Should I be grateful that my parent passed away later in life?” or “Is it okay to mourn or not?” These considerations are merely an under-estimation of the grief one feels in such instances.
For most of us, the death of a parent is a great loss. It completely changes our lives, and makes an even bigger impact on our whole family. There is no correct way to grieve, and everyone mourns differently. However, there are some things we feel that are common and shared by many people. This article will provide you with some tips on how to deal with grief over losing a parent.
Know that the way you feel is ok
It’s common to feel sad after the death of a parent, however it’s completely normal for other feelings take over as well. Perhaps instead of feeling sad, you only feel relieved that they’re no longer in pain or numb as you’re trying to process what has happened. Grief often leads to a plethora of conflicting and complicated emotions.
You might have shared a challenging relationship with your parent but it still represented an important part of your life. They raised you, and were your first teacher in this life. So, it’s only natural to face difficulties with coming to terms with such distress and struggle with your emotions.
You might experience:
- Disbelief or confusion.
- Frustration or anger.
- Despair or hopelessness.
- Emotional numbness and shock.
- Physical pain.
- Relief that they’re not in pain anymore.
- Depression or suicidal thoughts.
- Guilt for not visiting them frequently or not being present when they died.
Learn to forgive yourself
Guilt can burden anyone when their parent dies. You can feel like this because you think that you didn’t do enough for them or because of past arguments. Keep reminding yourself that no relationship is ever perfect, in fact, no one is. Mistakes, shortcomings, and disputes occur amongst everyone. But, it’s all in the past.
Remember that you were loved even if you rarely felt it. The sooner you realize that the past cannot be changed and is finished, the sooner you can learn forgive and free yourself from guilt. Try to remember the good times instead. It’s the positive memories that they would want you to reminisce about.
Do something in their memory
A lot of people find that doing something specific can help pay homage to their deceased parent. It’ll also help you feel some comfort.
You might want to try:
- Adopting their plants or pet.
- Donating to their preferred organization or charity.
- Volunteering for community service.
- Setting up a home memorial with mementos and pictures.
- Planting their favorite flower or tree in a park or your backyard.
Take some time out for yourself
After the passing of your parent, you’ll have an overwhelming responsibility on your shoulders. From addressing legal matters to making funeral arrangements, you will feel mentally and physically exhausted.
So, it’s important to give yourself some time to rest and recover. Once you’ve got your affairs in order and settled things, take a vacation. Travel and do things you’ve always wanted to do. You’ll feel refreshed and you’ll be able to help your family over a long time. Don’t feel guilty for taking time off.
Cherish familial relationships
A parent’s death often changes family relationships and dynamics. You might notice that your remaining parent, may now look to your siblings and you for support. Moreover, if you have any siblings, they too are experiencing the same pain and loss. Depending on their relationship with your parent, they may be experiencing the grief and reacting differently than you do.
Research has shown that a parent’s death can often affect the relationship between siblings negatively. It’s not uncommon for siblings to slowly grow apart or engage in conflict, especially if you disagreed over your parent’s end-of-life care. But, it’s important to note that family bonds can be quite comforting during grief.
Since you’re all experiencing the same loss, it’s important to embrace your family relationships. Make an effort to bond with your family and draw them closer together. You might have to visit and invite them over more often, reach out way more than you did in the past, and attend more family get together.
Try joining a grief support group
You could feel frustrated, irritated or misunderstood when people who haven’t lost their parents try to comfort you or express concern. Even though they’ve good intentions, they don’t understand what you’re experiencing. Joining a grief support group can help you with a different type of social need especially if you’re an only child.
In a grief support group you can connect with other people who have gone through similar losses. Not only will you feel more understood in a group, but you’ll be able to share thoughts, memories and emotions freely and receive validation for it.
There’s no shame in admitting that you need extra help when you’ve just begun processing your parent’s death. Talking to a therapist is a great way to deal with such grief. In fact, many therapists are highly experienced with providing grief support.
They can offer the right kind of guidance and help you work through various complex emotions that you may be feeling. Therapists can also teach you effective coping strategies to deal with the loss of a parent. Moreover, you will have a safe space and an outlet where you can express anger, resentment guilt, and other lingering emotions if you were hurt by your deceased parent’s behavior.
This will help you achieve some closure. A therapist can also help you forgive your parent if that’s what you’re struggling with.
Truth of the matter is that losing a parent will hurt regardless of how your relationship with them was. You will struggle in the beginning but in due time you will heal and recover from it. The above mentioned tips will help you cope with the loss and move on. We hope that this article helps you deal with your grief positively.