No matter how grown up or successful you become, there is an event that can shake you to the core and make you feel like a child again, and that’s when you must face the death of a parent. Whether it happens suddenly or you have a long period in which to prepare, the loss you feel upon the death is monumental. In order to grieve and cope in a healthy way, there are several different strategies you can use to ensure that the death won’t have ill-reaching effects in the months and years following the loss.
Losing a parent is a loss like no other. They are the mentors, the advice-givers, the comforters, even when you grow into an adult, and to have that presence gone from your life is shattering.
Take the time you need to accept how huge the absence will be and don’t rush to try and put your life back in order right away.
Accept your feelings about the loss, whatever they might be. If you were close to the parent, the loss might be felt even more keenly.
Anger, fear, anxiety, and even guilt—these are all common emotions that you might feel after your parent dies. Try and understand where these feelings are coming from and don’t try to push them aside.
If you don’t have a large, supportive family unit, then seek support from good friends or even a support group.
Even if you feel hesitant about group therapy, it can be an immense comfort to meet other people who are going through the same experiences that you are.
Avoid people who repeatedly tell you that you must “get over” the death quickly and move on, as this will only lead to avoiding your true feelings.
While it might be extremely painful to think about the parent, don’t turn away or shut out memories of them.
Share them with your loved one, even if it’s painful. This will help the healing begin in a healthy way.
If your parent died of cancer or some other type of illness, it will be natural for you to blame yourself, and you might wonder if you did all you could.
These feelings are usually intensified when a parent dies because as the adult child, you will remember that they always made you well when you got sick.
If you need to rid yourself of any guilt you feel, seek counseling or even write a letter to your parent. Once it’s finished, burn it and release those feelings forever.
As you cope with your grief, you should remember that some days will be easier than others.
On some days you might feel as though you’ve completely processed your grief, and other days it might feel as if memories and triggers are around every corner.
Take the time to understand that healing is a process, and it’s not going to happen in days or even weeks. On hard days, seek support of loved ones and friends.
Even if you have moments of intense grief weeks or months later, don’t hide or be embarrassed of those feelings.
The sense of loss and absence can hit at almost any time, especially when they are prompted by objects that were owned by your parent and remind you so much of the person he or she was.
Allow yourself to grieve freely and remind yourself that even though your parent is gone, they live on through you, in both your heart and your memories.